Police Vs Army

Published at December 03, 2018 12:18 AM 0Comment(s)5109views

Police Vs Army

A major setback to armed forces special powers, the Supreme Court on Friday rejected the plea of over 300 Army personnel challenging the lodging of FIRs against troopers involved in operations in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir, where AFSPA is in force. Government of India supporting the plea maintained that filing of FIRs against armed forces will have “demoralising effect”. Supreme Court bench of justices Madan B. Lokur and U.U. Lalit told Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta (who was representing the government), “When there is a loss of life, even in a encounter, humanity demands that it should be looked into and an investigation should be done.” Unfortunately, it didn’t receive much attention in the state (J&K) where there has been ruckus in the past over registering of FIRs against armed forces personnel by the police. For instance in the last week of January 2018, J&K police registered an FIR against Army personnel belonging to the 10 Garhwal unit including a Major rank officer. It was regarding a firing incident (January 27) in south Kashmir’s Shopian district in which two civilians (youth) were killed while nine others were injured. The Army maintained that the soldiers opened fire in self defence, a claim that was squarely rejected by the locals. While former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had ordered a magisterial probe, one BJP legislator demanded on the floor of the House that the FIR be cancelled. Mehbooba, however, refused to order cancelling of the FIR and said “it will be taken to its logical conclusion.” Din was also raised by sections that have been supporting unbridled powers to armed forces and therefore the impunity. In July 2018, in a report published in PTI (Press trust of India), Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi representing the armed forces (Govt) told a bench of Justices M B Lokur and U U Lalit, that “Army cannot be subjected to FIR otherwise military operations cannot be carried out.” Rohatgi also alleged that judicial inquiries involving armed forces in areas like Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur are “biased”. In the backdrop of civilian killings and gross human rights violations in Kashmir, Friday’s decision has come as a relief, particularly at a time when legislators have also joined the bandwagon to score brownie points. The police’s hands are not tied any more as the Supreme Court has made the matter clear – nothing is above law, neither legislators nor the armed forces. Judicial inquiries should proceed without any interference from any agency. It should not be construed as a brief victory of police over armed forces but the triumph of law that is above all.           



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