As the number of crime against women and children is increasing in Manipur, legal experts in the state expressed concern over the delay in delivery of justice and opine the need for proper implementation of legal procedures. They also suggested several correctional measures for speedy delivery of justice to the victims.
"Increasing number of crime-related cases against women and children and others, including murder cases, are pending before the courts and delivery of justice is delayed due to improper implementation of system of procedures from sections of implementing agency starting from first information report (FIR)," Aribam Noutuneshwari, retired judge of District Session Court of Manipur, has said.
Expressing concern over the delay in justice in cases, the retired judge shared her experience in the effort to bring correctional measures during a consultation programme held on Sunday on ‘issues of women and children and questioning the future of Manipur’. The programme was organised by Women Action for Development (WAD) in Imphal.
Deliberating on the mechanisms to speed up trials of cases with regards to crime against women and children (civil and criminal cases) in the state, the retired judge pointed out several lapses that delays cases pending before the court that need to be corrected.
The retired judge said one cannot blame the other as every section of procedure as starting from the first information report should be according to law and rules. The trial of the court could be sped up if the materials or examination reports are conducted properly, she said.
Noutuneshwari said that the procedure of justice delivery system in India is lengthy and it requires following a certain set of laws and rules according to the given CRPC.
Every section of legal procedure mechanism needs correction that in a crime, police are the first to report crime but examination should be conducted by the concerned executive magistrate.
In Manipur, however, all executive magistrate examination reports are made on paper by the investigating officer or after the post mortem report. Executive magistrate should examine the inquest report according to CrPC section 174, she said.
“Post mortem report is not as important as inquest report; the post mortem report doctor is not authorised to finalise the cause of death,” she clarified and stated that first inquest report conducted by executive magistrate with post mortem report will be able to identify the cause of death.
And as crime cases in Manipur are increasing over the years, the forensic science laboratory should be well developed with proper infrastructure or else waiting for a report from an outside state may take a long time, she added.
The court depends on eye-witnesses, circumstances, evidences and last scene theory during the trial, she added.
The retired judge also stated that the investigation part by the concerned authorities should be different from law-and-order duty police as many undue problems were put up before the court while conducting trial of the case from the police side for lack of police personnel, performing duty for VIPs etc.
She also informed that the family court is the concerned divorce authority and not the commission or local pradhan of the panchayat or local clubs.
She suggested amendment of POCSO Act in a society that recognizes elopement, most of the time teenagers, who are in age of 15-17 eloped and cases are registered under POCSO Act. In the state of Manipur, elopement is common and socially accepted and hence, the Act should be amended, she added.
She also suggested WAD to ask for a segregation ward in Manipur’s jail for the accused or alleged accused as, in her knowledge, there is no segregation ward in the jail.
Speaking on Women in Manipur, associate professor Noarem Sanatomba of Manipuri Department, Manipur University said that the old practice of men using alcohol to go out for war is practiced no more but that sadly, men indulging in alcohol often commit crime against women.
Sharing a legendary story about formation of a women’s group for justice during Leisana until the Thoibi period, he recommended renovating Meira Paibi.
Sanatomba also recommended for syllabus on issues of women, role of women and men, rapid action women team except for crime against women and children to implement.
United NGOs Mission Manipur secretary U Nabakishore also spoke on emerging trends of violence against women and future of Manipur stating that all people seem to be in dilemma that nobody is trying to understand the impact of crime against women and children as cases are increasing day by day.
“If we actually want to save the future of Manipur from such offences then we should examine socio-economic-political states of Manipur because we are not isolated from the global socio-economy-political system,” he stated.
“We have to build our own future and not by those from outside the state”, said Nabakishore and recommended examining the colonial system of the 1920’s and 1960’s.
He warned of rethinking before forming a military state.
Additional SP of prosecution of crime against women Sangamita spoke on special mechanism which could be adapted by the law enforcing agencies and people of Manipur to curb violence against women and children.
Editor of Sanaleibak, Hemanta Ningomba spoke on the need of follow up reporting with regards to cases of violence against women and children.
WAD secretary Sobita Mangsatabam shared that from January to May this year, 66 crimes against women and children occurred in the state according to a collection of news reports from local newspapers. It seems there is an increase in crime against women in the state compared to last year, she said and shared about the various difficulties faced by victims in getting justice and the inconveniences faced to appear before the court again and again because of adjourning times.
“Hike of prices of essential items, increasing drug abuse - the state has become an alcoholic flooded state and where will be a better economy for women?” Sobita asked.
Crime in the state never stops and may never stop as the state is a gender-blind state, she added.