The Supreme Court on Monday stayed investigation into the death of three civilians in Army firing in Shopian on January 27 in pursuance of an FIR registered by the Jammu and Kashmir Police after the Centre submitted that the state police could not have moved on the case without its prior sanction. “Let the matter be listed for final disposal on 24 April, 2018. There shall be no investigation on the basis of FIR lodged till then,” a bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandra-chud, ordered. The apex court was hearing the plea of Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh, father of Major Aditya Kumar of 10 Garhwal Rifles, seeking quashing of the FIR against his son.
The J&K police had registered the FIR under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of Ranbir Penal Code following an uproar over the incident at Ganawpora village in Shopian. The dead were identified as Javaid Ahmad, Suhail Ahmad and Rayees Ahmad. The Army had said they opened fire in “self-defence” to prevent “lynching of a Junior Commissioned Officer and burning of vehicles” by a mob. Seven security personnel were injured in the incident.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the state, told the bench that Kumar had not been named in the FIR yet. “At this stage, he is still not named as accused”, he said, adding that Kumar appears only in the context of him commanding the battalion. “Which means he can be roped in later,” asked the CJI and sought to know “what are the allegations in the FIR?” Naphade replied the charge was that “in retaliation, they (army personnel) opened fire and some people died.” He said that doesn’t mean the petitioners son is an accused.
Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General K K Venugopal said sought stay of the investigation. Under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, prior sanction of the central government was necessary in such matters, he said. Naphade tried to convince the court from staying the investigation, but the CJI reminded him, “Kumar is an army officer, not a common criminal”.
“But is there a licence to kill?”, asked Naphade, inviting protests from the A-G. In his petition filed, Singh has said his son’s intention was to save Armymen and property and the fire was inflicted “only to impair and provide a safe escape from a savage and violent mob engaged in terrorist activity”.