Follow Us:

‘Terribly wrong’

Editorial |

Short-lived would be any sense of relief or elation in the uniformed community at the apex court putting a stay on “coercive action” against an Army officer who is alleged to have recently overdone things in Shopian. For almost simultaneously did the court send out a signal that there would be no tolerating violation of human rights by the security forces ~ and bids to cover up extra-judicial killings would be dealt with firmly.

True there is little connection between the outrage in Manipur that was under the focus of a Bench of Justices Lokur and Lalit, and the “action” in Shopian: but in the prevailing gung-ho climate the court did well to remind the forces that ~ AFSPA or no AFSPA ~ they were duty and honour-bound to abide by the rules. Something which the military has begun to take lightly in an ambience in which anyone who thinks independently is dubbed anti-national or seditious.

Their Lordships actually went further. After flaying the functioning of a Special Investigation Team of the CBI it had set up to probe a series of killings in Manipur (previously criticised by a judicial commission and other inquiries) it directed that a team from the National Human Rights Commission be associated with the investigation into 17 specified cases. The court said there was something “terribly wrong” with the SIT’s non-professional probe, including re-registration of earlier FIRs and indicting people already dead. “We wanted the CBI to investigate the matter so that you can find out the truth. What kind of investigation is this… we are not satisfied with the progress made by the SIT.” After those comments there is little need to delve into the series of shortcomings pointed out by the petitioner ~ much to the embarrassment of the Additional Solicitor General appearing for the CBI.

The answers to the queries posed by the court are unlikely to be found in the judicial domain. They would be rooted in the distortion of the CBI from the nation’s premier investigative agency to a political tool of the government of the day. Previous judicial observations on the CBI ~ “caged parrot” being just one of them ~ paint such a poor picture (under successive governments to be sure) that there appears a case for disbanding the agency, it carries too much political baggage for efficiency or comfort.

It cannot be overlooked that Manipur ~ despite recent hotly-contested elections ~ is still too distant from the mainstream for excesses by the security forces to register on the top of the political scale. And given the prevailing scenario any doubting the sincerity of the forces is inviting “trouble”: so much so that they tend to run amuck ~ police, paramilitary, Army et al. The apex court is perhaps the common man’s sole bulwark against those who wield the big stick, or something more lethal. “Terribly wrong” is telling.