Manipur fake encounters: SC asks CBI to set up SIT
In a first, the Supreme Court on Friday set up a special investigating team (SIT) of five CBI officers and ordered the registration of a FIR and probe into the extra-judicial killings, fake encounters by the Army, Assam Rifles and police in insurgency-hit Manipur.
The apex court directed the CBI director to nominate a team of five officers for the SIT within two weeks, who will lodge the necessary FIRs and complete the investigation into the fake encounters by December 31 this year.
Calling upon states to adhere to the NHRC guidelines, the bench said: "It is not as if the dignity of only living persons needs to be respected, even the dignity of the dead must be given due respect".
"Having considered the issues in their entirety, we are of opinion that it would be appropriate if the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is required to look into these fake encounters or use of excessive or retaliatory force," a bench of Justices M B Lokur and U U Lalit said.
Directing the Centre and Manipur to extend full cooperation and assistance to the SIT without any "unnecessary hindrances or obstacles", the apex court asked the CBI chief to inform it about the composition of SIT in two weeks.
The court, which is hearing a PIL seeking probe into 1528 extra-judicial killings, ordered registration of FIR in 81 cases including 32 cases probed by a Commission of Enquiry, 32 cases investigated by judicial enquiries and high courts, 11 cases in which compensation has been awarded by NHRC and six cases probed by the commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Santosh Hegde.
On July 8 last year, the apex court had said the situation in Manipur has "never been one of war" and killing of citizens on suspicion that they are the "enemy", gravely endangers democracy.
It had held that the use of "excessive force" by the armed forces or police was not permissible in 'disturbed areas' under the draconian AFSPA.
The apex court, which had directed a thorough probe into the alleged fake encounter killings, maintained that inquest was needed to "know the truth" in Manipur where "we need to be clear that the situation has never been one of a war or an external aggression or an armed rebellion that threatens the security of the country or a part thereof."
It had also said, "if members of our armed forces are deployed and employed to kill citizens of our country on the mere allegation or suspicion that they are 'enemy', not only the rule of law but our democracy would be in grave danger."