The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Union of India to look into a PIL filed in connection with the current blockade and quit notice imposed or served by the Southern Angami Public Organisation (SAPO) on the Mao community of Manipur.
The first hearing of the PIL filed by convenor of Mao-Imphal Market Coordinating Committee Khuraijam Athouba was held on Monday before the three judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising chief justice DY Chandrachud, justice PS Naramsimha and justice JB Pardiwala.
The petition stated that under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution raises a number of specific legal issues of general public importance.
The SC bench has asked the Union of India through the Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta to “look into the issue of the complete ban on settlement, residency, trade and commerce and movement of the Mao Tribe members through the Southern Angami Tribe settlement.”
Such a blockade and incidents of violence have been sought to be linked by the Southern Angami Tribe members to their alleged traditional and tribal rights over the 32.29 sq km Kozürü Forest and two-third of the Dzuko valley (11.28 sq km) which are otherwise within the undisputed constitutional boundary of Manipur, the petitioner said.
Though efforts have been made in the past to resolve the issue through tribal bodies, nothing material has come about till now, the petitioner added.
It was further stated that neither the State of Nagaland nor the Union of India has taken steps to safeguard the basic fundamental rights of the Mao Tribe for the past 105 days and it was in such circumstances that it was considered necessary to approach the highest court of India for its due intervention for speedy justice.
“Most specifically, the embargo on Mao Tribe people for access to National Highway No 2 (Asian Highway No 1) has severely affected movement of Mao Tribe members and their business,” the petitioner added.
The PIL was filed in February 2023 for due protection of the inviolable Fundamental Rights of the Mao Tribe people by giving adequate security protection, due compensation of Mao Tribe victims of “the unlawful acts of SAPO and SAYO and for declaration of these two organizations as unlawful associations under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.”
It was informed that the court had fixed the matter on March 20. The Solicitor General has been specifically asked to render all possible assistance.
“It is expected that the instant Public Interest Litigation could become a precedent from the point of possible legal ramifications on highway blockades by vested groups and serious inconvenience caused to the public,” the petitioner added.