“It should be clear to everyone that officers and personnel of the Indian Army, paramilitary forces and the State Police are made of much sterner stuff than is sought to be projected and they can hardly be demoralized by observations said to have been made by anybody.”
The Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit dismissed a plea seeking their recusal from Manipur fake encounter cases.
These applications were filed in the writ petitions preferred by some police personnel of Manipur Police seeking quashing of certain oral observations made by the bench in Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association v. Union of India. It was also sought that the bench should recuse from hearing these writ petitions which should be placed for consideration before another bench.
In Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association v. Union of India, the Supreme Court had ordered the constitution of special investigation team comprising CBI officers and ordered the registration of First Information Reports and investigations into the alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur. The case is presently being investigated by the SIT.
The bench is said to have made some scathing oral observations against the police officers involved in the case.
The Attorney General also supported the plea seeking recusal and the submission that the Indian Army, the paramilitary forces and the Manipur Police have been demoralized by the observations made by the bench.
Terming the said submission as ‘overboard’, the bench said: “In any event, in our opinion, it should be clear to everyone that officers and personnel of the Indian Army, paramilitary forces and the State Police are made of much sterner stuff than is sought to be projected and they can hardly be demoralized by observations said to have been made by anybody. It is unfortunate that a bogey of demoralization of the Indian Army, paramilitary forces and the State Police is being raised. We are unable to comprehend the reason for this. As mentioned earlier, the Indian Army, paramilitary forces and the Manipur Police are made of sterner stuff and are disciplined forces strong enough to take everything in their stride. To contend that some observations said to have been made by this Court have demoralized the Indian Army, the paramilitary forces and the Manipur Police is suggestive of a weakness in them. Be that as it may, this is really stretching the argument to the vanishing point.”
The court said that the apprehension that the observations said to have been made by it on 30 July this year would influence the SIT is erroneous. “We do not find any basis for any such apprehension. The SIT is independent and so far, no allegation of unfairness has been made against the functioning of the SIT. Observations made by this Court or any court for that matter cannot impact on the investigations as long as they are conducted by professionals and we have no doubt that the SIT does consist of professionals who will not be swayed by any observations made by this Court during the continuing mandamus process,” the court said.
On the reports about oral observations, the bench said: “We need not go into the correctness of the text or otherwise of the observations made or into the context in which they were made. The fact of the matter is that the observations said to have been made were widely reported in the press with varying degrees of accuracy and completeness.”
The writ petitions have been listed for preliminary hearing on 26 November at 2 PM.