SC Orders CBI Investigation into Encounter Killings in Manipur
A bench led by Justice Madan B Lokur said that CBI will probe these cases involving mainly the Army and the Assam Rifles.
New Delhi: Stating that democracy will be in peril if people in India are deprived of human rights, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered CBI to register FIRs into 98 cases of encounter killing in Manipur.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Uday U Lalit dismissed the government's objections to reopen these cases from last 20-odd years and paved way for a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising CBI officers.
"If a crime has been committed, a crime which involves the death of a person who is possibly innocent, it cannot be over-looked only because of a lapse of time...Merely because the State has not taken any action and has allowed time to go by, it cannot take advantage of the delay to scuttle an inquiry," said the bench in its 26-page judgment.
It also trashed the Centre's argument that there was no need to revisit these cases since compensation has been paid to the next of kin in most of such instances.
"Compensation has been awarded to the next of kin for the agony they have suffered and to enable them to immediately tide over their loss and for their rehabilitation. This cannot override the law of the land, otherwise all heinous crimes would get settled through payment of monetary compensation. Our constitutional jurisprudence does not permit this and we certainly cannot encourage or countenance such a view," held the bench.
It added that it was SC's constitutional obligation to give justice and succour to the next of kin of the deceased even though direct members of aggrieved families were not in a position to move the court.
"If the people of our country are deprived of human rights or cannot have them enforced, democracy itself would be in peril," said the bench.
It then ordered the Director of the CBI to nominate a group of five officers to lodge necessary FIRs and to complete the investigations by December 31, 2017 and prepare charge sheets, wherever necessary.
"We expect the State of Manipur to extend full cooperation and assistance to the Special Investigating Team. We also expect the Union of India to render full assistance to the Special Investigating Team to complete the investigation at the earliest without any unnecessary hindrances or obstacles," said the court. It has now asked the CBI Director inform the bench of the composition of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) within two weeks.
By a judgment in 2016, the bench had decided to probe 1,528 cases of alleged fake encounters by security forces. It later decided to take up cases in batches and it first took up those inquiry cases where personnel from Army and Assam Rifles were involved. The order on Friday pertains to this batch.
Cases to be reopened:
- 32 cases of commission of enquiry
- 37 Judicial enquiry cases by HC
- 23 case enquired by NHRC
- 6 cases enquired by retd justice santosh hegde
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