AFSPA sapped? SC orders CBI to probe encounter deaths in Manipur

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In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court today directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to constitute a team to probe into the Manipur encounter killings.

The court was responding to a 2012 public interest litigation (PIL), seeking a probe and compensation in alleged cases of extra-judicial killings by security forces in Manipur from 2000 to 2012.

Hearing a case related to 1528 Manipur fake encounters allegedly perpetrated by Indian Army and Police, Justice Madan Lokur and Justice UU Lalit instructed the CBI to investigate 62 cases fake encounters took place in Manipur over the years.

The director of CBI will nominate the SIT and inform the court of its composition in two weeks. The Centre had argued that in encounter cases, there had always been local pressures leading to bias in inquiry against armed forces.

Over 1,500 alleged fake encounter cases in the state by Army and other security forces are being monitored, reported Livemint. The agency has to submit an action taken report to the court by mid-January, 2018.

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In July previous year, the court ordered a probe suspecting use of "excessive or retaliatory force" by armed forces or the police. "To suggest that all inquiries were unfair and motivated is casting a very serious aspersions on the independence of authorities in Manipur at that point of time, which we do not think is at all warranted".

The court rejected the Attorney General's submissions that since the incidents were of considerable vintage, it would not be appropriate to re-open the issues for investigation. "We expect Manipur and Union governments to render full assistance and cooperation to the SIT to enable it to complete investigations at the earliest", said Justice Lokur, who wrote the judgment for the bench. "Consequently, we have no hesitation in directing the constitution of a Special Investigating Team to investigate the cases that we have mentioned above".

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". The bench asked the Manipur government to pay the compensation in those cases where the NHRC had ordered compensation to the victims' families and registration of FIRs in respect of these complaints.

The order is specific to those cases in which judicial inquiries were ordered by Gauhati and Manipur high courts.

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