SC slams Manipur HC for denying medical aid to tribal prisoner – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Supreme Court on Wednesday strongly disapproved Manipur HC’s refusal to allow an ailing undertrial tribal person, arrested in Oct 2022 for possessing two kilograms of brown sugar, to be treated outside the prison because of simmering ethnic clashes.
While ordering immediate shifting of Lunkhongjam Haokip to Gauhati Medical College & Hospital for treatment, a vacation bench of Justices J B Pardiwala and Ujjal Bhuyan was critical of HC’s Feb 29, 2024 order declining shifting of the prisoner outside the jail as he belonged to a tribal community as it could be hazardous given the law and order situation.
Manipur witnessed clashes last year, to curb which even SC had to intervene. Over 200 persons lost their lives and many were left injured and homeless. While clashes have subsided, the tension — which burst open after HC asked the state govt to respond to a 10-year-old letter from the Centre on tribal status of an ethnic group — continues to simmer. Frowning at HC’s order and state’s lackadaisical approach, the SC bench told Manipur counsel Pukhrambam Ramesh, “We could have observed many things regarding state and HC. But we refrain from doing so for now.”
The bench found that the accused was examined in jail by a medical officer as he was suffering from piles, TB, chronic tonsillitis, abdominal pain as well as problems in his lower lumbar spine. “If medical report reveals anything serious, we will take state to task. He may be a criminal, might have committed a serious crime, but state has obligation to provide him medical treatment,” it said.

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