Manipur HC issues notice to state government in connection with detention of 29 Myanmar nationals

On March 31, 2021, the Manipur Police personnel arrested 29 Myanmar nationals, including six minors, who were staying without valid documents, from Ngathal and Kawnpui villages of Churachandpur.


 

The High Court of Manipur on Thursday issued notice to the state government in connection with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed concerning the detention of 29 Myanmar Nationals at a Detention Centre in Churachandpur district, Manipur.  

The PIL was filed by executive director of Human Rights Alert (HRA) Babloo Loitongbam, through counsel M Rakesh who is also director of Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) on behalf of the 29 Myanmar Nationals.

On March 31, 2021, the Manipur Police personnel arrested 29 Myanmar nationals, including six minors, who were staying without valid documents, from Ngathal and Kawnpui villages of Churachandpur. After registering a criminal case under section 14 of the Foreigners Act, they were produced before the jurisdictional magistrate.

Consequently, they were remanded into police custody till April 7, 2021. In the meantime, the government of Manipur notified the Sadbhavana Mandop, New Lamka, Churachandpur district as a Detention Centre and detained the said Myanmar nationals there.

The petition stated that at the said Detention Centre, no food is being provided to the inmates by the jail authority. However, some philanthropic organisations catered necessary food to the inmates voluntarily. No doctors or nurses were also posted there to give medical assistance to the inmates, as per the petition.

Two detainees had expired due to COVID-19, while another 13 more inmates of the Detention Centre were also found to be COVID-19 positive and they were shifted to a designated Covid Care Centre at Churachandpur Government College for treatment. They were later shifted back to the Detention Centre on June 16, 2021.

On July 2, 2021, Babloo Loitongbam approached the Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) for looking into the matter, and to ensure adequate nutritious food and regular medical attention to the inmates of the Detention Centre, and to provide compensation to the next of kin of the two inmates, who expired due to COVID-19 while being detained in the Detention Centre. “However, the Commission failed to issue a concrete finding and recommendation till date,” the petition stated.

Being aggrieved by the alleged inaction of the commission, the petitioner approached the High Court of Manipur by way of filing the PIL.

When the matter was heard on Thursday by the Chief Justice, Sanjay Kumar and Justice MV Muralidaran, the court observed that the state is responsible to provide the basic amenities to the inmates, who are in the detention centre. The court issued notice to the respondent with a direction to file its reply affidavit on or before December 13.

First Published:Nov. 11, 2021, 10:07 p.m.

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