SC ends impunity for armed forces [Security, Social Justice]
Every death caused by the armed forces in a disturbed area, whether the victim is a dreaded criminal or a militant or a terrorist or an insurgent, should be thoroughly enquired into, the Supreme Court held.
This is to address any allegation of use of excessive or retaliatory force beyond the call of duty.
Whether the aggressor was a common person or the state. The law is the same for both and is equally applicable to both. This is the requirement of a democracy and the requirement of preservation of rule of law and of individual liberties.
Hundreds of families in Manipur pleaded for a probe by a Special Investigation Team into 1,528 cases of alleged fake encounters involving Army and police.
It tears down cloak of secrecy about unaccounted deaths involving security forces in disturbed areas and serves as a judicial precedent to uphold civilian and human rights in sensitive areas under military control.
Under Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA), security personnel enjoy immunity against criminal action for acts committed in disturbed areas.
The apex court held that “there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial by a criminal court” if an Army man has committed an offence.
Court dismissed government’s argument that every armed person breaking prohibitory orders in a disturbed area runs risk of being considered an “enemy.”
A thorough enquiry should be conducted into “encounter” killings in disturbed areas because the “alleged enemy is a citizen of our country entitled to all fundamental rights including under Article 21 of the Constitution.”