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Officer behind AFSPA plea of 356 Army men drafted it for Major Aditya too

Colonel Amit Kumar was the legal officer who drafted the petition of Major Aditya Kumar, conferred the Shaurya Chakra this Independence Day.

Written by Sushant Singh | New Delhi |
Updated: August 21, 2018 6:43:32 am
In their petition, the Army personnel contend that the procedure adopted so far has created a hostile environment on ground, leading to demoralisation. In their petition, the Army personnel contend that the procedure adopted so far has created a hostile environment on ground, leading to demoralisation.

The Army officer who drafted the petition on behalf of 356 Army personnel in the Supreme Court is from the legal branch of the Army and is currently serving in Jammu and Kashmir. The petition, which alleges dilution of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) without specific amendment to that effect, was admitted in the Supreme Court last week and will be heard next on September 4.

Colonel Amit Kumar, an officer with 18 years of service and currently posted as a legal officer at a corps headquarters in J&K, told The Indian Express that Army personnel who served earlier or are currently serving in counter-insurgency areas, or may serve in the future, voluntarily joined the petition which was filed by Aishwarya Bhati, advocate-on-record, and will be argued by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi.

“I did not organise anyone for this. Once people came to know, which happens in the world of social media, they sent their vakalatnama to Bhati. In fact, we have more than 400 additional vakalatnamas lying with her even now,” Colonel Kumar said.

A Brigadier, currently re-employed, is among the 74 officers in the list of 356 Army personnel.

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Colonel Kumar was also the legal officer who drafted the petition of Major Aditya Kumar, conferred the Shaurya Chakra this Independence Day. He was at the centre of a controversy over the killing of three civilians in Army firing on stone-pelters in Shopian, south Kashmir.

The petition, filed on behalf of his father Lt Colonel Karamveer Singh in the Supreme Court and argued by Rohatgi pro bono, sought quashing of the FIR registered by J&K Police over the Shopian killings. The petitioner said the FIR was registered without the Centre’s sanction, a must in a state where AFSPA is in place.

“Under Article 32 of the Constitution and Fundamental Rights what is due is what the petition is asking for. These are duty-bound soldiers whose morale is affected if there is any confusion about the bonafide duty on legal government orders. These are all cases which are in areas under the Disturbed Areas Act with AFSPA applicable,” Colonel Kumar said.

In their petition, the Army personnel contend that the procedure adopted so far has created a hostile environment on ground, leading to demoralisation. The Army officers, the petition states, are in a “confused state of mind”, torn between not following orders and getting tried by Court Martial on one hand, or being prosecuted, on the other hand, by the criminal justice system for doing their duty.

Allegations of 1,582 cases of extra-judicial killings in Manipur between the years 2000 and 2012 were levelled by several petitions before the Supreme Court, leading to constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the CBI in July 2017. The petition makes specific allegations against the CBI, submitting that it has displayed “extreme bias” against specific Army officers.

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