Petition has tacit Army support?

Advocate Aishwarya Bhati.

Advocate Aishwarya Bhati.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Defence Ministry seemed unperturbed at the manner in which over 300 Army officers approached the Supreme Court seeking protection from prosecution in insurgency-hit areas.

Official sources said the officers had done so in an “individual capacity”.

Advocate Aishwarya Bhati, who is representing them, said the move was undertaken individually by the officers and they had not contacted the Defence Ministry. However, there seems to be tacit support of the Army for the move.

“On August 20, we have admission hearing. We will also be praying for interim stay so that no investigation or adjudication is carried on in violation of the protection under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) without the sanction of the Central government,” Ms. Bhati told The Hindu.

Stating that the Army’s own criminal adjudication system is very robust, Ms. Bhati said the petition was not for protection of fundamental rights of the officers. “This protection is to facilitate their operations and engagements with the enemy in insurgency, proxy war and militancy areas and to dilute it would imperil the nation’s sovereignty and integrity,” she added.

AFSPA footprint

The petition comes as the Home Ministry pushes to reduce the footprint of the AFSPA in the Northeast. The law gives immunity to security forces operating in insurgency-hit areas. “They have gone to court in their personal capacity. Article 21 and 32 of the Constitution allows servicemen to go to court,” an official source said. When contacted, Army officials refused to comment.

In 2016-end, when videos surfaced on social media of jawans complaining about ill-treatment under the sahayak or orderly system, the Army had initiated action against them for bypassing the established channels of grievance redress. Following the videos, Gen. Rawat warned personnel against using social media and put out a WhatsApp number for soldiers to convey their problems directly.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 10:21:18 PM |

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