New Delhi: The Supreme Court today transferred the appeal challenging the conviction of Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh’s son for a lesser offence in a 2011 road rage case from Manipur to the Gauhati high court.
The apex court also provided security cover of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to the parents of the victim and a social activist, and police security to an advocate who was representing the mother and father in the appeal after they claimed they had received death threats.
A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that the security of the parents, social activist Binalaxmi and advocate Utsav Bains was the responsibility of the court looking at the “peculiar facts and sensitivity” of the case.
“Their security is now our responsibility and this we will do keeping in view the peculiar facts and sensitivity of the case,” said a bench also comprising Justices L.N. Rao and Naveen Sinha.
The bench directed the CRPF and the Chandigarh police to file a compliance report within two weeks. Bains is a resident of Chandigarh.
The parents of the victim Irom Roger, who was killed in the incident, had claimed that they and their lawyer fear for their lives in Manipur.
It was alleged during the hearing that no lawyer wanted to appear in the high court in Manipur to argue the appeal against the five-year jail term awarded to Ajay Meeitei, the chief minister’s son.
Meetai has been awarded a jail term under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC for firing at Roger on March 20, 2011 and killing him.
The incident had occurred after Roger had allegedly not allowed Meeitei to overtake him in his SUV, which had irked the chief minister’s son.
At the outset, the bench asked why the state government has not filed appeal against the lesser sentence awarded to Meeitei and why the parents have filed not the appeal in the high court at Imphal.
Advocate Kamini Jaiswal, appearing for the petitioner, said that the parents have filed the appeal, but it was returned due to some objection and the state has not filed the appeal as the case was transfered to the CBI.
“If they have filed it, then we will transfer it and if they have not filed it we will allow them to file in another high court. We will permit filing of an appeal in the Gauhati high court and take over the responsibility of security cover to the four persons,” the bench said.
It told the counsel for the Manipur government that security is not the responsiblity of state now and the court will direct the CRPF to provide security to the aggrieved.
The apex court had yesterday indicated that it would transfer the case to some other high court.
The Centre had last month told the court that Roger’s parents would be provided security by the state government.
The state government had also informed the apex court that the parents – Irom Chitra Devi and Irom Lokendra Singh – would be provided round-the-clock security by the Manipur Rifles at their residence.
In an affidavit filed before the apex court, Manipur’s chief secretary had denied the allegation that at the instance of the chief minister, the administration, including the police, was obstructing the Iroms from approaching the high court to challenge the conviction of Meeitei for a lesser offence.
The state had said that the allegations, including that the chief minister was abusing his official position to obstruct the parents from approaching court, have been found to be false.
On May 29, the apex court asked the Centre to consider giving security cover to the parents of the youth.
The Manipur government had told the court that it does not have any problem in providing security to the parents of the youth who have alleged that they feared for their lives.
The apex court had on May 22 sought response from the Centre and the state on the plea of parents who also alleged that they were being threatened and the family members were being allegedly implicated in cases.
The parents had sought directions “to provide security for the safety of the life and liberty of the petitioners and their family members against any kind of threat and victimisation for their peaceful stay throughout India”.