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.”