MU professors, students released; HC extends term of probe panel

IMPHAL,15th Oct: Subsequent to submission of final report (FR) by the investigation officer of police in connection with the FIR filed over the Manipur University (MU) issue, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West, Lamkhanpau Tonsing on Tuesday ordered release of all the arrested professors and students without any condition. Lamkhanpau, who is also CJM, Imphal East in-charge, initially withheld the order on the ground that the FIR lodged by Prof Yugindro at Singjamei police station pertains to section 307 that relates to attempt to murder.

As the complainant (Prof Yugindro), who was also present in the court upheld the FR of the police and volunteered to withdraw all charges levelled against the accused persons, the CJM eventually decreed for the unconditional release of the arrested persons, including six professors of the university. During the hearing, Prof Kangujam Yugindro submitted before the court that he has no objection against submission of FR by investigation officer (IO) of Singjamei police station - SDPO A Devananda, who sought the court’s consent to close the case on the ground of ‘insufficiency of evidence’.

The IO’s report, with reference to the FIR registered in the police station, mentioned that the charges levelled against 14 arrested persons could not be substantiated due to lack of sufficient evidences. The professors and teachers released on the basis of the police FR and withdrawal of FIR registered in Singjamei PS included Naorem Sanatomba Singh, Sougaijam Dorendrajit Singh, Irom Kennedy Meitei, Khundrakpam Sushilkumar Singh, Pangambam Romajit Singh, Peter Laishram, Laishram Renold Singh, Laishram Robindro Singh, Mayanglambam Santosh Singh, Khumukcham Joychand Singh, Prof Chungkham Yashowanta Singh, Lisham Shanjukumar Singh, Yengkhom Raghumani Singh and Dr Laimayum Bishwanath Sharma.

Delivering similar verdict with regard to the FR submitted by IO of Lamphel police station in connection with arrest of 10 persons, the court ordered unconditional release of Nameirakpam Edison Meitei, Naorem Rishikumar Singh, Ningthoujam Romesh Singh, M Ajitkumar Sharma, Thongam Bikram Singh, Manibabu Ningthoujam, Laitonjam Tomthinganba, Pebam Jet and Sadananda Sarangthem. The 10 persons are members of different student organisations and arrested during agitation over the MU issue.

Another student arrested by City police station and three others by Porompat PS on same issue were also released by the same court after the respective police IOs submitted FRs of the FIRs registered against the quartet.

Meanwhile, the High Court of Manipur has issued a directive to extend term of the independent two-member enquiry committee formed to probe allegations levelled against the suspended Manipur University vice chancellor professor AP Pandey till the writ petition filed by Pandey is disposed. A division bench of the high court comprising justices Kh Nobin Singh and Lanusungkum Jamir issued the directive to secretary (Department of Higher Education) of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, who is representing the Union of India in the writ petition filed by professor AP Pandey, to take up necessary steps to extend term of the enquiry committee.

The directive comes after the same court appointed retired IAS officer Jarnail Singh as administrator on October 11 to bring normalcy in Manipur University which remained paralysed since May 30 after students and teachers launched agitation demanding removal of vice chancellor professor AP Pandey. The division bench was hearing separate PIL filed by retired lecturer Chongtham Nimai and Huiyen Lanpao editor Hemantakumar Ningomba and an instant PIL filed by professor AP Pandey Tuesday. The PILs filed by Nimai and Hemantakumar were already clubbed in the last sitting of the court on October 11.

During Tuesday’s hearing, MU counsel BP Sahu presented before the court that the administrator appointed as per court’s directive had already taken charge but yet to bring normalcy in the varsity mainly due to non-release of arrested students and teachers from jail. Advocate General N Kumarjit also informed the court that state government had taken a firm decision to bring back normalcy in MU and initiated processes to release all the arrested students and teachers.

The AG also informed the court that CJM Imphal West had ordered release of all the arrested students and teachers. After hearing statements from both the sides, the court declared that there is no order to pass and further hearing will be conducted on October 26.

Before the court issued the directive, petitioners Chongtham Nimai and Hemantakumar Ningomba submitted an application for extension of submission of report of the independent two-member enquiry committee in view of the Union government’s order dated October 4 to submit report of the inquiry committee by October 20. However, professor AP Pandey’s counsel A Mohendro and suspended pro-VC professor Yugindro’s counsel M Hemchandra opposed the plea while maintaining that the application is already under PIL No. 49 of 2018 and does not require discussion. After hearing statements from both the sides, the division bench decided to discuss the application on October 26 as also its disposal.

The division bench also discussed the writ petition (W.P. (C) No. 825 of 2018) filed by professor Pandey demanding declaration of ‘Writ of Certiorari’ or similar writ on the two-member enquiry committee constituted as per an order issued by the Government of India on August 17, 2018 while claiming that the order was issued without assigning jurisdiction. Pandey also prayed for declaration of the Memorandum of Agreement signed on August 16, 2018 as ‘Writ of Mandamus’ while claiming that the agreement was signed without mentioning jurisdiction.

MUTA counsel Th Ibohal and MU counsel BP Sahu further informed the court that the enquiry committee was constituted by the Centre after students levelled 15-point allegation against professor AP Pandey and the existing problem in Manipur University would be hard to solve if the enquiry committee ended abruptly without completion. The counsels also placed before the court about main reasons behind non-completion of the enquiry committee which included the decision taken by MUSU, MUTA and MUSA not to cooperate with the enquiry committee till disposal of the writ petition filed by professor Pandey in the High Court of Manipur.

After hearing statements from both the sides, the court issued the directive to extend term of the two member enquiry committee till disposal of the writ petition filed by professor AP Pandey. The court also fixed October 26 for its next hearing. Barring, egg protester Ningthoujam Popilal, all 35 students and teachers arrested in connection with MU issue were released by Tuesday evening.

Since around 9am, large number of people particularly students, teachers and family members of those lodged in jail thronged Sajiwa jail complex to welcome the arrested students and teachers. However, they were released only at about 6pm. As soon as the students and teachers came out of the jail, people awaiting them outside the jail shouted the slogans ‘Long live Manipur University’ and garlanded them.

AMSU, MSF, DESAM, KSA, SUK and AIMS jointly organised a felicitation function for the released students and teachers at Lamyanba Shanglen and the MU community too hosted a similar function at the Centenary hall of Manipur University late Tuesday evening.

Detailing media persons on how students and teachers who were on judicial remand were released without any condition, MSF president Ngariyanbam Milan said that a delegation comprising leaders of AMSU, MSF, DESAM, KSA, SUK and AIMS held talk with the government at CM secretariat on Monday. The government side led by chief minister N Biren also comprised chief secretary, advocate general, education minister and commissioner (higher & technical education). The table talk which started from 6pm and continued till late midnight reached an understanding on six points. Agreeing to the points, chief secretary inked the agreement on behalf of the government.

Among the points agreed included release of all the arrested teachers and students as professor K Yugindro has withdrawn his complaint, government extend cooperation to two member enquiry committee formed to probe allegations against professor AP Pandey, state government mount pressure on MHRD to fill up all statutory posts of MU to make the varsity function effectively, state government intimate Central government about relocation of D-Coy of 6AR currently stationed in MU campus, cooperation between two sides to avoid student violence and drastic police action in the varsity and extending cooperation to function the varsity normally. Apart from reaching the six points, professor Yugindro also withdrew the complaint he had filed at Singjamei police station without any condition in the interest of the society thereby enabling the jailed students and teachers to release without any condition, Milan said.

Meanwhile, MUSU president Mayanglambam Dayaman informed media persons that a stage has come for resolving the MU issue and the two member enquiry committee is very much needed for delivering justice. However, bringing normalcy in MU would be hard if the enquiry is conducted unfairly, he said adding that MUSU spearheaded the agitation to save MU from AP Pandey and his colleagues who were trying to uproot the varsity.

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