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CBI to investigate extra-judicial killings under AFSPA in Manipur

15 July 2017

The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to form a team and probe the Manipur extrajudicial killings.

The judgement came on a PIL filed by the Extra Judicial Execution Victims Families Association of Manipur in 2012 and pertains to 1,528 alleged instances of encounter killings by the men in uniform.

The bench had also pulled up the Manipur Government for not taking action on such alleged fake encounters by the armed forces and asked if it was "not supposed to do anything". On the contrary, FIRs have been registered against the deceased for alleged violations of the law.

"In every military operation, the army can not be disbelieved". "We have ordered the CBI director to constitute a team in two weeks". However, the government and armed forces deny any such charges.

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Justice Lokur, who wrote the judgment, said even the "dos and don'ts and the Ten Commandments of the Army Chief" accepts the ethos and principle that use of excessive force or retaliatory force by uniformed personnel resulting in death necessitates a thorough enquiry. The groups often target Indian armed forces in the state.

"We are very happy to learn the court's order in the regard". The SC said access to justice is a basic human rights, which enjoys a special place in India's constitutional scheme.

"The primary reason is that for numerous deprived sections of society, access to justice is only a dream". "The history of public interest litigation over the years has settled that the deprived sections of the society and the downtrodden such as bonded labourers, trafficked women, homeless persons, victims of natural disasters and others can knock on the doors of our constitutional courts and pray for justice".

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit rejected a plea made by the Union government that all those incidents were of considerably old time and it would not be appropriate to re-open investigations.

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To the government's stand that these "fake encounter" cases were too old to be raked up, the court said, "if a crime has been committed, a crime which involves the death of a person who is possibly innocent, it can not be overlooked only because of a lapse of time".

On April 20, the army had told the apex Court that it can not be subjected to FIRs for carrying out anti-militancy operations in insurgency-prone States like Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur, while alleging local bias in judicial inquiries conducted against it in these regions, which have tarnished its image.

The Court also stated that there was "no doubt" that the National Human Rights Commission had become a "toothless tiger", which lacked resources to function effectively, and whose directions were frequently ignored.

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CBI to investigate extra-judicial killings under AFSPA in Manipur