The Supreme Court on Friday said it would examine a plea filed by the family members of five civilians killed in an alleged fake encounter in Pathribal area of south Kashmir in 2000, seeking CBI trial against the army personnel purportedly involved.
The matter reached the apex court after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had dismissed the plea of family members last year. “Issue notice. Let the matter be listed for final disposal after six weeks,” a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar said.
Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan appearing for Nazir Ahmad Dalal, maternal uncle of Zahoor Ahmad Dalal, who was one of the victims of the alleged fake encounter, said that the Army has not conducted the court martial against its personnel. She said that Jammu and Kashmir High Court was wrong in summarily dismissing the plea.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre, said he has filed its response to the plea. The bench said it was listing the matter for final disposal after six weeks and issued notice to the Centre, Army and CBI on the plea.
The apex court had on October 7, 2016, asked that the copy of the petition be served to the Centre so that its counsel can assist the court. The victim’s kin in their plea had sought resumption of trial before the CBI court, after the Army personnel were exonerated by the court of inquiry.
In 2012, the apex court had given an option of conducting the trial against the army men, either through court martial or criminal court, after which the military had opted for the former alternative.
Dalal had filed the plea against the high court’s April 27, 2016, order summarily dismissing the families’s plea seeking criminal court proceeding before a CBI court for alleged killing of five civilians on March 25, 2000. The CBI had in 2006 indicted five men of the Rastriya Rifles for allegedly killing five civilians, of whom three were dubbed as Pakistani terrorists responsible for the massacre of 36 Sikhs at Chittisinghpura area of Anantnag district. Two other civilians were allegedly claimed to be unknown terrorists.
The state government had ordered the CBI probe into the incidents which on the basis of DNA tests had identified the bodies of civilians as Kashmir residents. They were identified as Zahoor Ahmad Dalal, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Mohammad Yousuf Malik, Jumma Khan s/o Amirullah Khan and Jumma Khan s/o Faqirullah Khan.
In 2014, the Army had informed the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar that no prima facie case was made out against its personnel. The plea said that two forensic labs at Hyderabad and Kolkata had found through DNA analysis that the bodies of those burnt and killed were of villagers of Anantnag district. “The CBI found the killed persons sustained about 98 per cent burn injuries in addition to the bullet injuries indicating use of excessive and unwarranted force.
“It is impossible for the killed persons to suffer such extensive burn injuries in a genuine encounter. The encounter was staged managed with a view to obliterate the identity of killed persons oblique motive”, the plea, filed by the families of five civilians killed in Pathribal, had said.
“The Army by resort to the special procedure under the Army Act and rules has declared it to be a case of no evidence which finding has been arrived at in a wholly opaque process and in the face of established record,” the plea said.