The Supreme Court on Monday directed the CBI’s SIT to file a supplementary FIR naming the officers involved in the alleged extra-judicial killings and staged gunfights by the Army, Assam Rifles and Police in Manipur.
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice U.U. Lalit asked the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to file the supplementary FIR in the existing FIRs which will include the name of officers or commanding officers of the units, and told the NHRC to also assist the team.
The top court said the judicial inquiries and the Gauhati High Court’s findings have named the commanding officer of the unit of the Assam battalion (involved in the alleged shooting) or the officer who shot “but this personnel have not been named in the FIR”.
The SIT should file a supplementary FIR naming the personnel involved, it said.
The court was hearing a PIL seeking a probe into as many as 1,528 cases of extra-judicial killings in Manipur.
The court’s direction came after advocate Menaka Guruswamy, the amicus curiae assisting the court in the matter, said that 11 FIRs were registered in March but none named any Army, Assam rifle or Manipur police personnel despite their being specifically named in the judicial inquiries’ reports and the high court’s findings.
These 11 FIRs were registered on the basis of judicial inquiries and cases in which the Gauhati High Court had given its findings.
Taking note of the submissions of Guruswamy that FIRs were registered against “unknown personnel”, the bench said that going by the records of the judicial inquiries, the high court’s order and witnesses “there is not just the name of the offending unit but also the officer under whose command it was done”.
“The fact of the matter is he (officer) shot. He is the man who shot and accepted it. You know the commander of the unit, you also know the man in question. But it’s not in the FIR,” the bench told Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the SIT.
The apex court said if the SIT doesn’t name the personnel in the FIR, “who are you going to question tomorrow”?
The bench, which had asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to depute three persons with the SIT to carry out investigations in 13 of the 42 cases, said: “We would like the NHRC to get involved in other cases too.”
When the ASG said that “substantial progress” has been made in the cases filed by the SIT and it has been collecting evidence, examining witnesses and waiting for forensic reports, the court sought the presence of the director of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory to ensure there was no delay in the reports.
The ASG also told the bench that the FIRs lodged against the victims will be cancelled. On February 12, the court slammed the SIT for not properly probing the issue and asked why FIRs were lodged against the victims and not against the officers.
The bench also took note of the contentions of the SIT that it was having some difficulty in understanding the local language in Manipur and asked it to approach the Manipur University which may help in translation.
The court then posted the matter for May 11.
On July 14, 2017, the apex court set up the SIT comprising five Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officers and ordered registration of FIRs and investigation into the alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur.
The court had ordered the registration of FIRs in 81 cases including 32 probed by a Commission of Inquiry, 32 investigated by judicial authorities, 11 in which compensation was awarded and six probed by the commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde.