The Supreme Court on Friday ordered a CBI probe into 97 cases of alleged extrajudicial killings by the Army, paramilitary and police personnel in Manipur. The court also directed that the investigations be completed by December 31 this year.
“Having considered the issues in their entirety, we are of the opinion that it would be appropriate if the Central Bureau of Investigation is required to look into these fake encounters or use of excessive or retaliatory force. Accordingly, the CBI Director is directed to nominate a group of five officers to go through the records of the cases…lodge necessary FIRs and to complete investigations into the same by 31st December 2017 and prepare chargesheets, wherever necessary,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit ordered.
The court also asked the CBI director to inform it about the composition of the team in two weeks’ time. The judgement came on a PIL filed by the Extra Judicial Execution Victims Families Association of Manipur in 2012 and pertains to 1,528 alleged instances of encounter killings by the men in uniform. However, the petitioners were able to gather information on only 655 of these deaths.
The order recommended for the CBI to probe 32 deaths investigated by various Commissions of Inquiry, 36 cases considered by the Gauhati High Court for judicial inquiries, 23 deaths reported to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and six cases probed by a commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Santosh Hegde.
The court rejected the Centre’s contention that there were local pressures and the ground-level situation was such that it would not be surprising if the inquiries were biased in favour of citizens.
The judgment also refused to accept the argument that some of the cases were too old and “it may not be appropriate at this point of time to reopen the issue for investigation” and that in many cases, third parties and not the kin of alleged victims had approached the court.