Register FIRs in all staged shoot-out cases in Manipur, SC tells CBI

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the CBI to register FIRs in all 30 cases of alleged fake shootouts by the security forces in Manipur.

The bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit directed the agency to register FIRs by January 31 and complete investigation by February 28 – a deadline the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said was not enough.

The court order came as it expressed its displeasure over the investigating agency telling the bench that it was studying all the reports before taking a call for registering the FIRs.

The CBI told the court that of the 48 cases being dealt by it, in 12 cases, it has already registered FIRs, in six cases, it has yet to receive report from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and in the remaining 30 cases, it was examining the documents.

Telling the CBI that FIR has to be registered in every case, Justice Lokur said: “You may take up the cases in which the ground work has been done by the Commission of Inquiry, NHRC, Judicial Inquiries and Gauhati High Court.”

The top court by its July 14, 2017 order had directed the CBI Director to nominate a group of five officers to go through the records of the 90 cases, lodge necessary FIRs and complete the investigations by December 31, 2017.

The court had referred to the cases inquired and examined by the Inquiry Commission headed by former apex court judge Justice Santosh Hegde, the NHRC, judicial inquiries and the Gauhati High Court.

As Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for CBI, told the bench that the deadline of February 28 to complete the investigation was not sufficient, the court told him to address the issue during the hearing in February when CBI would be filing the status report on its investigations.

The court by its July 14 order had directed the listing of matter in January 2018 to “ensure compliance with our directions for investigation” by the CBI as it heard a plea by the Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association seeking a SIT probe into the killing of 1,528 persons by ManipurAPolice and security forces since 1978.

Earlier the top court by its July 8, 2017, verdict had ruled that security forces including cannot use excessive force during counter-insurgency operations in areas declared disturbed under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and criminal courts do have the jurisdiction over cases of alleged excesses by security forces.

“The law is therefore very clear that if an offence is committed even by Army personnel, there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial by the criminal court constituted under the Cr.P.C. To contend that this would have a deleterious and demoralizing impact on the security forces is certainly one way of looking at it, ” the court had said.

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