Military cannot be subjected to FIR for its operations: Army
Operations against militants or insurgents may be affected if FIRs are lodged against the Army, the Supreme Court was told on Thursday.
The Army also told the apex court that it cannot be subjected to FIRs for carrying out anti-militancy operations in insurgency-prone areas like Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur, while alleging local bias in the judicial inquiries conducted against it in these regions, which have tarnished its image.
"Judicial inquiries which are biased due to local considerations have tarnished the image of Army. Military operations cannot be dissected in a particular way. Army cannot be subjected to FIR otherwise military operations cannot be carried out," Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench of Justices M B Lokur and U U Lalit.
Rohatgi, appearing for the Army and the Assam Rifles, said it cannot be subjected to investigation by the state police with regard to its operations against militants in strife-torn areas.
"Whether it's Jammu and Kashmir or Manipur, we are facing the same local bias. Why doesn't any judicial inquiry ever exonerate the Army? These inquiries (have) never said that Army did the correct thing. Army is facing problems due to bias in such inquiries," he said.
Pointing out that Army was working in very difficult situations in these areas, Rohatgi said it has its own system in place, has its own approach and is governed by different set of rules. "In every military operation, Army cannot be disbelieved.
Every judicial inquiry cannot be against the Army. The alleged extra-judicial killing cases in Manipur are not cases of massacre, rather these are cases of military operations," he said. He said the petitions under Article 32 of Associations of Widows from Manipur, seeking FIR into alleged extra- judicial killings and SIT probe, should not be considered and the court should not embark into it.
During the hearing, the bench also questioned the Army over its Court of Inquiry, a fact finding proceeding.
"Court of Inquiry is for the benefit of the Army. It is not for the satisfaction of public which has the right to know the truth behind any incident," the bench said after Rohatgi alleged bias in the judicial probes conducted by district judges.
The bench also pulled up the Manipur government for not taking action on such alleged fake encounters by armed forces and asked was it "not supposed to do anything".
Senior advocate V Giri, appearing for Manipur, accepted the lapse on the state government's part but said even the High Court never asked it to register FIRs in such cases.