Supreme Court Rejects Plea for Displaced Manipur Residents' Voting Rights

The Supreme Court declined a petition urging voting access for 18,000 displaced Manipur residents in Lok Sabha elections. Timing cited as logistical challenge. Details reveal impracticality due to imminent polling.

The Supreme Court declined a plea on Monday aiming to secure voting rights for approximately 18,000 individuals displaced by ethnic violence in Manipur ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, alongside Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, conveyed that the petition's timing posed logistical challenges for the Election Commission.

"The belated filing of this petition would significantly disrupt the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in Manipur. Therefore, we choose not to intervene in this matter," remarked the Court.

While acknowledging the petitioner's genuine concerns, the Court noted the impracticality of expecting the Election Commission to organize voting facilities within three days, considering Manipur's polling scheduled for April 19.

"The arrangements for the initial round of voting on April 19 have already been finalized. It's undeniable that granting relief as requested would impose an unreasonable burden on the Election Commission. Additionally, it's crucial to recognize that the Election Commission is constitutionally mandated to exercise policy control," the Court emphasized.

The petition highlighted the plight of those displaced by violence, asserting the absence of measures to facilitate their participation in the electoral process. Advocates Hetvi Patel and Kaoliangpou Kamei drafted the petition, represented by advocate Satya Mitra.

The plea alleged that the Election Commission overlooked the disenfranchisement of thousands of Kuki-Zo-Hmar internally displaced persons (IDPs), failing to provide arrangements for exercising their voting rights.

The Supreme Court is currently handling several petitions concerning Manipur's violence. Previously, it established an all-woman judicial committee, led by Justice Mittal, to oversee related investigations. Additionally, in November 2023, it instructed the Manipur government to ensure the dignified burial of unidentified bodies.