The unlawful onslaught
In an order on a writ petition filed to investigate more than 1500 encounters by the security forces, the Supreme Court has taken serious note of the extra-judicial killings in Manipur
Sadiq Naqvi Delhi
The Supreme Court has taken serious note of the rampant extra-judicial killings in Manipur. In an order on a writ petition filed to investigate more than 1500 encounters by the security forces the apex court also said that court was not open to the idea of the State taking recourse to detailing the killings of security men in the insurgency to justify these alleged extra judicial killings.
“In 1997, in the Peoples' Union for Civil Liberties this Court, dealing with the case of killing of two persons in Manipur had cautioned the State against ‘Administrative liquidation’. But, after 15 years in this case, we are faced with similar allegations on a much larger scale,” the two judge bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai said in the order.
It further noted, “For this Court, the life of a policeman or a member of the security forces is no less precious and valuable than any other person. The lives lost in the fight against terrorism and insurgency are indeed the most grievous loss. But to the State it is not open to cite the numbers of policemen and security forces killed to justify custodial death, fake encounter or what this Court had called ‘Administrative liquidation’. It is simply not permitted by the Constitution. And in a situation where the Court finds a person's rights, specially the right to life under assault by the State or the agencies of the State, it must step-in and stand with the individual and prohibit the State or its agencies from violating the rights guaranteed under the Constitution. That is the role of this Court and it would perform it under all circumstances.”
Rubbishing the arguments of the counter affidavit submitted by the state of Manipur, which made the plea that the court should not deal with the matter directly and instead ask the NHRC to indicate the status of cases, the two judge bench said that it “was unable to even follow such a plea”. It went on to state, “The course suggested by the State will completely dissipate the vigour and vitality of Article 32 of the Constitution. Article 21 coupled with Article 32 of the Constitution provides the finest guarantee and the most effective protection for the most precious of all rights, namely, the right to life and personal liberty of every person. Any indication of the violation of the right to life or personal liberty would put all the faculties of this Court at high alert to find out the truth and in case the Court finds that there has, in fact, been violation of the right to life and personal liberty of any person, it would be the Court's bounden duty to step-in to protect those rights against the unlawful onslaught by the State.”
While denying the need of a special investigation team, the court constituted a three member committee chaired by Justice Santosh Hegde with the former Chief Election Commissioner, JM Lyngdoh and former Karnataka DGP Ajay Kumar Singh being the other two members. They have been entrusted with the task of submitting a report on the extrajudicial killings in the state.