The Centre has extended its support to the 700 serving officers of the Army, who in their personal capacities, have filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a protection of their fundamental rights. The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard the plea of the soldiers in regards to an alleged fake-encounter in Manipur.
During the hearing, Attorney General KK Venugopal said:
"The Center supports the plea filed by the soldiers. The armed forces are facing a difficult time in fighting insurgency. The number of soldiers killed is more than insurgents. The situation in Manipur is very different from other areas".
Furthermore, Mukul Rohtagi and AG KK Venugopal made a joint request to transfer the case to another bench after which Justice Madan Lokur questioned them if the court should not monitor the CBI probe in the Manipur fake encounter case? Attorney General KK Venugopal said:
"The CBI is self-sufficient to carry on the investigation on their own. In the midst of the insurgency and the difficult fighting if there are orders from the court that these persons must be arrested it affects the morale of the soldiers. They cannot understand why after 20-30 years they are being asked to face trial", he said.
"It's a question of life and death. If the highest court in the country makes such observations even before any trial is conducted, witnesses examined, all 40-41 accused will stand branded. If the Supreme Court calls them murderers would the trial court go against what the Supreme Court says?", he added.
Mukul Rohtagi representing the Armymen and AG KK Venugopal for the centre demanded the recusal of Justice Madan Lokur and UU Lalit from hearing the Case. The Supreme Court has now reserved the order on the plea and will soon deliver it's on the issue of recusal of the bench in the case.
Earlier, in an unprecedented development that came against the backdrop of cases regarding the actions of on-duty Army officers coming under the scrutiny of internal security agencies and the judiciary, around seven hundred serving officers of the Army, in their personal capacities, approached the Supreme Court and filed a written application seeking protection of their fundamental rights.
On August 2, an Army officer was booked by the CBI in relation to an alleged fake-encounter in Manipur. The central agency was conducting its probe on the orders of the Supreme Court, and the case, which relates to a 2009 incident, had been registered under murder-related sections of the Indian Penal Code. The incident had been termed a fake encounter the SC-appointed commission. Earlier, in July 2017, the Supreme Court had entrusted the CBI with over 40 cases of alleged extrajudicial killings.
Meanwhile, in Jammu and Kashmir, an FIR had been filed by the police under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC against Major Aditya and his unit of the 10 Garhwal Rifles over the Shopian Firing incident of January 27 when three civilians were killed after Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting 200-strong mob of protestors in J&K's Shopian district. The Supreme Court is currently hearing the plea of Major Aditya's father, Lt Col Karamveer Singh, seeking to quash the FIR against his son. Lt Col Singh had said in his petition that Major Aditya was "wrongly and arbitrarily" named in the FIR as the incident relates to an Army convoy that was on bonafide military duty in an area under AFSPA.