A legal tussle broke out between the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir on whether Army personnel stationed in the restive State can be prosecuted for their action taken in “good faith.”
Appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, the State submitted it is the duty of a police officer to register an FIR if a cognisable offence has been committed, whether by an Army man or not.
The Centre countered that Section 7 of The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act of 1990 lays down that there would be no legal proceedings against Army personnel for acts done within the course of their duty. The three-judge Bench decided to examine the question of law, which is significant as it would mean the apex court referring the legal issue to a Constitution Bench.
The case pertains to the incident when Army personnel opened fire on a stone-pelting mob, killing some of them, in Shopian district of the Valley. A PIL petition was filed by Vineet Dhanda against the ignominy suffered by Army personnel who are made to face criminal proceedings for doing their duty. Such an FIR would affect the morale of the armed forces operating in tough conditions, the petition said.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, for Jammu & Kashmir, said the controversy is covered by the Constitution Bench decisions in the Naga People’s Movement of Human Rights judgment of 1997 and the Lalita Kumari verdict of 2013.