A Supreme Court-appointed committee chaired by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Justice Gita Mittal on August 21 said the reconstruction of thousands of essential documents lost or destroyed in the gunfire, arson and violence which has rocked Manipur since May is the first step that needs to be taken to nurse the State back to health.
The committee has filed three separate reports in the Supreme Court after meeting stakeholders on August 19.
The committee headed by Justice Mittal also includes Justices Shalini Phansalkar Joshi and Asha Menon, both former High Court judges.
A Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud had entrusted the all-women committee the task of providing the “healing touch” to Manipur by supervising, intervening and monitoring relief and rehabilitation, restoration of homesteads, religious places of worships, etc.”. CJI Chandrachud had said the committee, through its work, would endeavour to re-instil the Manipur people’s belief in the rule of law.
“The first of the three reports submitted by the committee highlights the loss of essential documentation of the residents of Manipur who have been dishoused… The committee suggests the appointment of a nodal officer to take charge of the reconstruction of these documents,” CJI Chandrachud had said, after perusing the reports.
He said the lost documents include Aadhaar cards, etc. “Benefits are now distributed through the modalities of the Aadhaar card… That is also the link to bank accounts,” CJI Chandrachud observed.
The CJI said the committee’s second report concerned the Manipur Victim Compensation Scheme (MVCS).
“The committee says the MVCS needs to be substantially improved,” Chief Justice Chandrachud addressed the lawyers for both the petitioners and the State of Manipur.
The Bench said the MVCS should be in the same league as the schemes framed by the National Legal Services Authority.
The committee flagged that a victim of Manipur violence was not even considered eligible for benefits under MVCS if he or she had received welfare from another scheme.
The court said there is no such absolute bar in other States. “In other States, if a victim has got benefits under any other scheme, that fact will be taken into consideration while deciding the amount of compensation under this scheme,” Chief Justice Chandrachud remarked.
The CJI said the committee reports identify core areas in which work needs to be done in the State. These include rehabilitation against women victims of violence, comprehensive psychological assistance and mental health care, medical care and health, relief camps, and data reporting and monitoring. The committee said it has also identified domain experts whose help it would require in these fields.
The court posted the case for Friday, saying it would pass certain procedural directions to facilitate the work of the committee in aspects, including administrative assistance (office space, etc), funding, necessary publicity by setting up a web portal, and other infrastructural requirements.