The Supreme Court Friday issued notices to the Centre, CBI, and the Army on a petition challenging a Jammu and Kashmir High Court order to dismiss a plea against the Army’s decision to close proceedings against five officers allegedly involved in the March 2000 Pathribal encounter.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra also set a deadline of six weeks for responding to the notice.
The petition, filed by families of the five men killed in the encounter, said it was a “fake encounter” and that forensic tests had exposed claims that the dead were Pakistani militants. This was also established in a subsequent CBI probe which found five Army officers responsible for the deaths, it said.
“The original claim that these were foreign militants killed in an encounter has been exposed as a lie by the scientific reports of two impartial and highly regarded forensic institutes. The dead men are the kin of the petitioners as the DNA examinations by CDFD Hyderabad and CFSL Kolkata reveal. Therefore, the case is one of cold-blooded murder as found by the CBI. Yet the Army by resorting to the special procedure under the Army Act and Rules has declared it to be a case of no evidence,” the petition said. The finding “has been arrived at in a wholly opaque process and in the face of established records,” the plea said.
“The petitioners contend that the Pathribal encounter which occurred on March 25, 2000, must in all justice be tried by the open system of general criminal law, for the Army has resorted to impunity in this regard,” the plea said, adding that though the petitioners had approached the high court, their plea was dismissed “in limine”.
Those killed were local villagers, claimed the petition and alleged that the “fake encounter” was staged by the Army to “save their face in the view of public criticism of their operational efficiency and lack of control in the area in the wake of Chittisingpora massacre.”
The Army conducted a court martial and closed the case, saying there was no evidence against the accused, the petitioners said.