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Manipur encounters: SC raps SIT


The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the CBI’s SIT, probing alleged extra-judicial killings and fake encounters by Army, Assam Rifles and the police in Manipur, for not registering the required number of FIRs as directed by it earlier.

The court. while putting searching questions to the Special Investigation Team over the issue, directed it to lodge 30 more FIRs on or before January 31, after the team said it has lodged 12 FIRs till date.

The apex court is hearing a PIL seeking probe into as many as 1,528 cases of extra-judicial killings in Manipur.

“FIRs have to be registered in every single case. It is the investigation that has to be carried out by you (SIT).

After the investigation, you decide whether you will file the charge sheets or closure reports,” a bench comprising Justices Madan B. Lokur and U.U. Lalit said.

The top court asked the SIT to complete its investigation in the 12 matters in which FIRs have already been registered, by February 28 this year.

“We make it clear that on or before January 31, 2018, all FIRs must be registered in respect of the remaining 30 cases as mentioned in the three tables that we have mentioned in the judgement dated July 14, 2017,” the bench said.

The court had on July 14 last year constituted an SIT comprising five CBI officers and ordered registration of FIRs and probe the alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur.

The bench, which perused the first status report filed by the SIT, had directed that all subsequent reports to be filed before it, should have the approval of the CBI director.

The bench also asked the CBI director to monitor the progress in the investigation and posted the matter for further hearing on March 12.

At the outset, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, appearing for the CBI, placed before the bench the status report of SIT.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing the petitioners, raised the question that CBI has not yet lodged the FIRs as directed by the court earlier and statement of witnesses have not been recorded so far.

The ASG referred to the contents of the status report and said that out of 48 such incidents, the SIT has not received the documents related to six cases.

However, the bench asked the CBI’s DIG, who is in-charge of the SIT probe and was present in the court, as to why all the FIRs were not registered yet despite ordering the team to do so by December 31 last year.

“You (SIT) do not need forensic reports to register an FIR. For registering an FIR, you do not need site visit. There are orders of the Gauhati High Court and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). You can register FIRs in respect of these cases and then carry out investigation,” the bench said.

When the DIG said they have to examine the voluminous records of each case before lodging FIRs and see whether a case was made out or not, the bench shot back, “that is for the courts to see if cases are made out or not. The Gauhati High Court has said about unnatural deaths. You cannot say that judgement of high court is wrong.”

Meanwhile, the ASG told the bench that SIT has received the documents related to these cases in tranches.

The bench told the DIG that the apex court has asked the SIT to first investigate the cases which have already been dealt with by the high court, NHRC and a commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Santosh Hegde.

“Why did we picked up these cases? Because there are some foundational analysis by some judicial authorities in these matters,” the court said, adding, “you were expected to carry out investigation from there onwards“.

Regarding the arguments advanced by Gonsalves, the ASG said that process of recording statement of witnesses have already began.

The apex court had on January 8 said it appeared that the matter relating to probe into these cases was not being taken up seriously by the SIT.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 11:05:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/manipur-encounters-sc-raps-sit/article22451711.ece

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