The Supreme Court has indicated that it will appoint a Commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde, former Chief Election Commissioner J. M. Lyngdoh and a senior police officer to probe fake encounter killings in Manipur.

A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai said it would pass a formal order to this effect on Monday after getting consent from Justice Hegde and Mr. Lyngdoh. It was hearing a petition by Manipur-based Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association that sought a special investigation team probe into the extra-judicial killings by the Army and other security forces.

The Bench said the Commission would initially probe six cases where the magisterial inquiry had raised questions on the genuineness of encounter and security forces had “unlawfully” killed people, including a 12-year-old boy.

The Bench was upset at the Manipur Government questioning the petitioner’s motives. “Nationalism is not a monopoly of the State. Simply because you represent the State, you don’t have the authority to impute motives on others.”

Questioning why petitioner families should establish their credentials as nationalists, the Bench said, “These are the allegations that drive people to anti-national activities.”

Justice Desai told Ranjit Kumar, “You talk about insurgency but don’t point fingers at them.”

Making it clear that the Court was aggrieved at the loss of life, be it of security men or a common man on the street, Justice Alam said, “In this country we lost a prime minister [Indira Gandhi] and a former prime minister (Rajiv Gandhi) in terror attacks. Did we lynch them [the attackers]?”

Referring to the “horrendous” 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, he asked: “Do we lynch them?”

He said “so long we are here and have rule of law no one can be shot in an unlawful manner.” Magisterial inquiry “does not inspire confidence as it is not satisfactory and no one, including the army personnel, appeared before it,” he added.

On the composition of the Commission, the Bench said it could not find better persons than Justice Hegde and Mr. Lyngdoh to conduct the inquiry. Having indicated what it intended to do, the Court said it would not go as far as accepting the prayer of setting up a Special Investigating Team to probe the alleged cases of extra-judicial killings by the security forces.

  • The Commission will initially probe six cases

  • No one can be shot in unlawful manner: Bench