CBI to investigate extra-judicial killings under AFSPA in Manipur

Supreme Court of India. Credit PTI

Supreme Court of India. Credit PTI

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered a probe led by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into several cases of alleged extra-judicial killings of civilians by security personnel and police in Manipur.

The team among other cases will investigate the extra-judicial killings by the armed forces under AFSPA.

The director of CBI will nominate the SIT and inform the court of its composition in two weeks. The Bench of Justices Madan Lokur and UU Lalit directed the SIT to investigate and file charge sheets by December 31 this year.

The bench took note of the amicus curiae's submission that in none of the 98 cases had an FIR been registered against the Manipur police or any uniformed personnel of the armed forces of the Union.

On the court's direction, the Centre probed 282 cases of deaths and found that 70 matters were related to the Army and Assam Rifles, while the rest were linked to police. The agency has to submit an action taken report to the court by mid-January, 2018.

Supreme Court had earlier refused to exempt Army personnel from being named in FIRs relating to encounter killings in areas under the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. It had directed that the Indian Army and other paramilitary forces can not use "excessive and retaliatory force" in Manipur and all such allegations of excessive force must be probed.

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Hailing the judgment, Communist Party of India's Manipur state secretary Dr M Nara said, "We'll pressure the parties concerned, including the government, to speed up the investigation".

The apex court dismissed pleas for not reopening old cases and said, "If a crime has been committed, which involves the death of a person, who is possibly innocent, it can not be over-looked only because of a lapse of time".

In her report, she added that this was symptomatic of the "state's disinterest, the impunity enjoyed by the Armed Forces". The SC said access to justice is a basic human rights, which enjoys a special place in India's constitutional scheme.

Pulling up the state government for inaction, the court directed it to pay compensation in those cases where the NHRC had ordered relief and registration of FIRs.

"I welcome it", said Babloo Loitongbam, director of the Human Rights Alert, which had along with an association of families of missing persons, filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in 2012 seeking trials of the 1,528 cases of staged gunfights.

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