Junk panel report on AFSPA abuse: Centre,Manipur to SC

Defending the role and actions of armed forces personnel,the Centre and the Manipur government have held as “incorrect and legally untenable”

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: August 7, 2013 4:07 am

Defending the role and actions of armed forces personnel,the Centre and the Manipur government have held as “incorrect and legally untenable” the judicial panel report,indicting the forces for fake encounters and AFSPA’s “gross abuse”.

The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Manipur government,in their affidavits,have urged the Supreme Court to discredit the report of the panel,led by former judge Santosh Hegde,which was formed to investigate cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur.

The panel had said six sample cases considered by it were “not genuine encounters” and that “maximum force” was used.

Controverting,the governments have said all these encounters were not only genuine and actions of personnel were “well justified” but were also within the ambit of the legal protection available to them under AFSPA.

Asserting that the panel embarked upon a “faulty” procedure that prejudiced even the “basic human rights” of security personnel,they complained that “unfortunately” the personnel were made to prove their innocence although the law was settled that burden was on a complainant to prove his case.

The affidavits also alleged that an ordinary person,facing a criminal trial,would be placed on a much better footing than the way security personnel were considered by the panel.

They described the proceedings of the panel as “null and void”,while maintaining that all six cases were genuine encounters,“in lawful exercise of powers by security forces” under AFSPA and other laws.

On the issue of lifting AFSPA,the affidavits claimed that 2,192 persons,including security personnel,had been killed in Manipur in the last 20 years and that lifting of AFSPA in Imphal had led to increase in violence.

MHA said there was a need to continue with the existing arrangements till normalcy and development were fully restored in Manipur. The state government supported this stand,saying it was not possible to withdraw AFSPA until Manipur state police was strengthened,equipped and trained to handle the grave situations.

Meanwhile,a Bench of Justices A K Patnaik and J S Khehar directed the Manipur government to submit in the court its Commission of Inquiry reports into allegations of fake encounters and posted the matter to September 17 for hearing.

The panel was formed in January to examine six of the over 1,500 such cases after the Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families Association and the Human Rights Alert moved the apex court. The panel submitted its report to the court in April after a 14-day hearing in March.

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