SC asks Manipur to help ring in Christmas at relief camps

The court permitted the committee to prepare a proposal on the “way forward” for the restoration of these places of worship.

Published - December 15, 2023 08:47 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Image used for representation purpose only.

Image used for representation purpose only. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Supreme Court on December 15 asked the Manipur government to help victims of violence living in relief camps across the State to ring in Christmas, a festival of sharing and forgiveness.

Appearing before a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Manipur, initially sounded apprehensive, wondering if religious celebrations associated with one particular community may trigger a law and order problem which may reopen the wounds of months of ethnic violence and bloodshed in the State.

Mr. Mehta said the State had helped celebrate Diwali without anybody inviting an order from the Supreme Court. He said there was no need to “sensationalise”.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati said the court’s order should cover all religious festivals, not just one.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who sought the court’s intervention with the State to make arrangements for the safe observance of Christmas, had said his intention in making the request was not to sensationalise.

Small things

“These are small things that a citizen can seek,” Mr. Ahmadi, appearing for the Meitei Christian Churches Council, said.

The hearing had begun with Mr. Ahmadi telling the court that “Christmas was in the offing” and the State ought to make “arrangements for the people to congregate”. Mr. Mehta, in turn, had advised caution.

During the hearing, senior advocate Vibha Makhija, appearing for the Justice Gita Mittal Committee appointed by the court to be its eyes, ears and hands in monitoring the rehabilitation of the State, confirmed that “religious, non-religious buildings have suffered a large degree of damage”.

In the hearing, the court directed the State to submit to the committee in two weeks a comprehensive list identifying religious structures of all faiths which were damaged or destroyed in the violence. The Bench said the State should further apprise the committee of the steps taken to secure these places of worship.

The court permitted the committee to prepare a proposal on the “way forward” for the restoration of these places of worship.

The Bench also asked the committee to coordinate with the State Police, through the Director General of Police, on steps to remove encroachments or illegal occupation at these places of worship.

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