The Supreme Court on Friday pulled up the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the investigation agency’s slow pace of investigation into the alleged extra-judicial killings by security forces in Manipur. The apex court directed the agency’s chief to appear before it on July 30 to decide what can be done to expedite the probe process.
The Indian Army, Assam Rifles and the Manipur Police have been accused of fake encounter killings in 1,528 cases from 2000 to 2012 in the insurgency-hit state.
Two weeks ago, the top court had directed the CBI director to form a team of officers to conduct the probe. In April, 282 cases were referred to the Supreme Court for verification, prompting the bench to direct the Centre to distinguish those related to the armed forces, including the Army and Assam Rifles. Similarly, it had asked the Manipur government to examine and segregate the cases related to the local police.
“The state of Manipur will examine these 265 cases and segregate the cases of Manipur Police. Similarly, the Union of India will examine and segregate the cases related to the armed forces including Army and Assam Rifles,” the bench had said.
Based on a public interest litigation, the Supreme Court in 2016 had ordered a thorough probe into the alleged killings, observing that the use of “excessive or retaliatory force” by the armed forces or police was not permissible in “disturbed areas” under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA). It also noted that “democracy would be in grave danger” if citizens were killed merely on suspicions that they were enemies of the state.
In its contention, the Centre said an internal enquiry had already been conducted by the Human Rights Division of the Army and the Defence Ministry. To this, the apex court had said that it did not possess accurate and complete information on each of the 1,528 cases over the last 20 years.
The Army too had contested the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it cannot be subjected to FIRs for carrying out anti-militancy operations in insurgency-prone areas like Jammu and Kashmir, and Manipur.