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Manipur violence: Supreme Court raps High Court judge for not rectifying orders on Meiteis’ quota

'We gave time to Justice Murlidharan to remedy his error but he did not do so. We have to take a strong view against it now'

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 18.05.23, 05:57 AM
Supreme Court of India.

Supreme Court of India. File photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday described as "completely and factually wrong" a directive by Manipur High Court to the Centre to consider the grant of Scheduled Tribe status to the majority Meitei community, citing apex court rulings that said such power was vested with the President.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud asked solicitor-general Tushar Mehta to advise Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh and other constitutional authorities to maintain restraint while making public comments on the violence following the March 27 directives of Justice M.V. Murlidharan of the high court.


At least 73 people died during the protests against the perceived attempt to grant ST status to the Meiteis.

“We have to stay the order of Manipur High Court. It is completely and factually wrong. We gave time to Justice Murlidharan to remedy his error but he did not do so. We have to take a strong view against it now," the Supreme Court said.

The Supreme Court, however, refrained from staying the March 27 order since a writ petition was pending before a division bench of Manipur High Court against the verdict. Also, Justice Murlidharan has himself extended the time limit for consideration of his order by one year, hearing an application moved by the Manipur government.

"There are judgments passed by constitution benches and other judgments on the power. It is clear if the high court judges do not follow constitution bench judgments, then what can we say? It is very clear…,” the Supreme Court bench, which also had Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, told Mehta, appearing for the Manipur government.

The bench was referring to the fact that Justice Murlidharan, despite Supreme Court verdicts that the power to grant ST status was vested with the President, directed the Centre to consider the plea of the Meitei community.

Constitutional and legal propriety demand that judgments passed and laws laid down by the Supreme Court are binding on all other courts under Article 141. Similarly, under Article 144, all civil and judicial authorities are to act in aid of the Supreme Court.

The apex court took on record a status report filed by the Manipur government explaining the measures undertaken by it to restore normality.

The bench was dealing with a batch of petitions and applications by various organisations challenging the high court order and seeking protection of the lives and properties of the affected communities.

One of the petitioners’ lawyers, Nizam Pasha, complained that chief minister Biren Singh had made objectionable comments on Twitter about the Kuki tribals.

The CJI initially declined to entertain the submission, saying: “We will not enter into the political arena.”

However, Justice Chandrachud later turned towards Mehta and said: “Mr Solicitor-General, there must be restraint on the part of the authorities. Please advise the constitutional authorities to act with restraint and not make such statements.”

He added: “But we will not allow the courts to be dragged into areas which are in the realm of politics and policy. We know the remit of the constitutional court.”

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