The Supreme Court on Friday ordered a CBI investigation into the alleged extra-judicial killings by security forces in Manipur, reported news agency PTI. Overruling objections by the government and the Army, the apex court sought the central agency’s response within two weeks. The Army, Assam Rifles and the Manipur Police are accused of fake encounter killings in 1,528 cases from 2000 to 2012 in the insurgency-hit state.
A bench, comprising Justices M B Lokur and U U Lalit, directed the CBI director to form a team of officers to conduct the probe. In April, 282 cases were referred to the SC 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 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 PIL, the SC in 2016 had directed 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 contention, the Centre said an internal enquiry conducted through the Human Rights Division of the Army and the Defence Ministry was already conducted. To this, the SC had said that it did not possess accurate and complete information on each of the 1,528 cases in the last 20 years.
The Army too had contended the SC’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.