SC to hear plea against AFSPA dilution on Aug 20

SC to hear plea against AFSPA dilution on Aug 20
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New Delhi, Aug 14: The Supreme Court on Tuesday admitted a petition filed by a group of 350 Indian Army soldiers claiming that exposing them to CBI and police prosecution for exigencies during operational encounters against insurgents will endanger “national security”.
A bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra Tuesday agreed to grant urgent hearing after counsel Aishwarya Bhati said dilution of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) protection shield to armed forces personnel in disturbed areas will jeopardize the efficiency of operations against ultras and endanger national security.
After 350 armed forces personnel, six Manipur police commandoes, who are chargsheeted by CBI in alleged extra-judicial killing cases, also moves SC complaining that justice Madan Lokur-led bench’s remark that they are “murderers” even before commencement of trial has caused critical prejudice to them and that they do not expect fair trial.
Recently, the top court had passed an order directing the national investigating agency to register cases and prosecute armed forces personnel and policemen for alleged extra-judicial killings while operating in disturbed areas of Manipur in last two decades.
A bench, headed by Justice Madan Lokur, had recently slammed the CBI director for delay in filing of FIRs against Manipur police commandos and armed forces personnel who were allegedly involved in what a PIL alleged as ‘extra-judicial killings’ during operations in the last two decades. The SC had asked the CBI director as to why it had not arrested the accused despite the allegations of killings.
The CBI director had told the court that after the agency filed its chargesheets, it was for the trial court concerned to decide whether to grant the accused bail or send them to judicial custody. However, the armed forces personnel, who under Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) enjoy virtual immunity from prosecution by police for alleged ‘excesses’ committed during operational exigencies, felt that anti-insurgency operations were vital to protect national integrity and that while doing so, they do not know when there would be a lethal burst of fire that could jeopardize their own lives.
The petition, likely to be filed on Tuesday and mentioned for early hearing by advocate Aishwarya Bhati before CJI Dipak Misra, says the AFSPA immunity was vital for the soldiers to undertake operations against insurgents, who are armed with sophisticated weapons and slip into neighbouring countries to frustrate hot pursuit.
The Manipur Police too is planning to move a petition before the SC to question the efficacy of the SC’s decision to ask the CBI to register FIRs against police commandos who too faced FIRs similar to the armed forces personnel for alleged extra-judicial killings.