With the government stoutly defending the role of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and insurgency-hit Manipur, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it was more concerned about human rights violations happening in the heart of capital cities like Imphal.
“It is not the Line of Control (LoC) but the heart of the cities like Imphal, is what we are concerned. Public order needs to be followed,” a bench of Justices M B Lokur and U U Lalit said after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that security forces at LoC or during insurgent operations have to act in a particular way.
Referring to an earlier constitution bench judgement in the Naga People’s Movement of Human Rights case, the bench said law in this regard has already been settled, as it has ruled that though an internal disturbance is a cause for concern, it does not threaten the security of the country.
While NHRC counsel and senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam contended that there was “no accountability” in case of human rights violations, Rohatgi said the security personnel have to act “in a particular way” on the LoC or during an insurgent operation.
“Truth of human rights violations if any can be found through criminal trials. It is a serious situation. Security personnel at a Line of Control (LOC) or during an insurgent operations has to act in a particular way. How else we do it,” Rohatgi said.
He said what happened in the 1980’s and retrospective enquiry into those incidents will have serious effect on the Army, whether in Manipur or in Jammu and Kashmir.
On the other hand, Subramaniam said “if there are abrogation of human rights, then accountability has to be fixed on the erring personnel. Here there is no accountability”.
The army or security agencies refuse to give any details about cases if there are allegations of human rights violation and asserted that under the Armed Force Special Powers Act (AFSPA) or any other law this cannot be done.
“In Manipur, it took three years to get an information regarding a case of alleged human rights violation. NHRC is a responsible fact-finding body. No government can say it is not accountable for violation of human rights,” Subramaniam said.