Supreme Court: In the case relating Manipur extra judicial encounters, where allegedly 1528 persons had been killed in fake encounters by police personnel and personnel in uniform of the armed forces of the Union, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and U.U. Lalit, JJ directed the CBI to probe into the 62 cases of extra judicial killings by the Armed Forces in Manipur. The petitioners had contended that the victims of the extra-judicial executions were innocent persons with no criminal record but they were later on labeled as militants.
It is noteworthy that last year, on 08.07.2017, the bench of Madan B Lokur and Uday Umesh Lalit JJ., had, in Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM) v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 685, called for a detailed NHRC enquiry into the allegations of excessive force by Police or Armed forces in Manipur and had asked the petitioners to complete the documentation indicating whether the allegations were based on any judicial enquiry or an enquiry conducted by the National Human Rights Commission or an enquiry conducted under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952. The tabular statement filed by the petitioners showed 655 cases that were under enquiry.
Compensation – Not an appropriate relief
Rejecting the Attorney General KK Venugopal’s contention that compensation had been paid to the next of kin for the unfortunate deaths and therefore it may be not necessary to proceed further in the matter, the court said that compensation has been awarded to the next of kin for the agony they have suffered and to enable them to immediately tide over their loss and for their rehabilitation. This cannot override the law of the land, otherwise all heinous crimes would get settled through payment of monetary compensation.
SIT v CBI
Regarding the appointment of Special Investigating Team, the Court said that since officers of the Manipur Police may be associated, it will not be appropriate to associate any officer of the Manipur Police particularly since in some of the cases the role of the Manipur Police itself has been adversely commented upon. Hence, it would be appropriate if the Central Bureau of Investigation (or the CBI) is required to look into these fake encounters or use of excessive or retaliatory force. The Court, hence, directed the Director of the CBI to nominate a group of five officers within 2 weeks to go through the records of the cases mentioned in the three tables given above, lodge necessary FIRs and to complete the investigations into the same by 31.12.2017 and prepare charge sheets, wherever necessary.
NHRC – A toothless tiger
The NHRC prayed before the Court that there should be implementation of its communications and Guidelines, enforcement of the orders passed by it and serious consideration of the recommendations made by the NHRC and necessary provision for its effective functioning. Paying heed to the concerns of NHRC that the commission has been reduced to toothless tiger, the Court said that any request made by the NHRC in this regard must be expeditiously and favourably respected and considered by the Union of India otherwise it would become impossible for the NHRC to function effectively and would also invite avoidable criticism regarding respect for human rights in the country.
The matter will next be taken up in the second week of January, 2018. [Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM) v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 743, decided on 14.07.2017]