Mob actions in Manipur court complexes cause for worry

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Imphal, Jan 17 (IANS) Several instances of mobs assaulting men accused of rape, murder and other heinous crimes within the court complexes in Manipur have left many worried over this extra-constitutional phenomenon.

Even the judiciary and legal fraternity, apart from a section of society, have expressed unhappiness over the government silence or inaction on the disturbing happenings.

Whenever a murder or rape incident is reported, a joint action committee of members of the public is formed and houses and properties of the accused torched even though the accusations are still to withstand judicial scrutiny.

Besides, the families of the accused – who have nothing to do with the crime – are banished from the locality.

Police and jail staff responsible for presenting an accused in a court of law are left to tackle violent mobs in the absence of adequate security.

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The beating of the accused routinely inside court complexes is highly objectionable, Manipur’s Director of Prosecution Ngangom Tejkumar told IANS.

Former Indian Police Service officer Ahanthem Romenkumar, a practising high court lawyer, pointed out that mob actions border on the contempt of court.

Sources said that Manipur Home Minister Gaikhangam had instructed Director General of Police L.M. Khoute to look into the issue.

Another matter of concern is the demand made by a section of society that lawyers should not plead the case of those accused of rape or rape-murder and other heinous crimes. There have been instances of physical obstructions to some lawyers in such cases in the past.

“Interference in professional work of lawyers is not acceptable,” Tejkumar said.

Romenkumar said: “It is a violative of the Advocates Act. It is unethical. It is the constitutional right of even an accused to be represented in a court of law and defend himself. This unconstitutional action should be stopped forthwith.”

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