21 Oct 2022 3:55 AM GMT
The Supreme Court, on Thursday, allowed interim applications filed by the Union Government pertaining to officers of the Special Investigation Team, that was entrusted with the investigation of extra-judicial killings in the State of Manipur pursuant to an order of the Apex Court in July, 2017. The order was passed in two interim application filed by the Union...
The Supreme Court, on Thursday, allowed interim applications filed by the Union Government pertaining to officers of the Special Investigation Team, that was entrusted with the investigation of extra-judicial killings in the State of Manipur pursuant to an order of the Apex Court in July, 2017.
The order was passed in two interim application filed by the Union Government seeking:
The interim application was filed in a writ petition preferred by Extra Judicial Execution Victim and The Human Rights Alert claiming to have compiled 1528 alleged extra-judicial executions carried out by the police and security forces in Manipur.
Additional Solicitor General, Ms. Aishwarya Bhati submitted that by way of the order passed on 14.07.2017, the Apex Court had directed the SIT to conduct investigation with respect to 3 categories of cases, namely, Commissions of Inquiry cases (35); Judicial inquiry and High Court cases (37) and NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) cases (23). She apprised the Apex Court that the investigation regarding the three above-mentioned categories are complete in all respects. She added that in four cases wherein 18 chargesheets have been filed by the police authorities and in four cases protest petitions were filed against the final report filed by the police and in those the courts directed further enquiry. In view of the completion of investigation, Ms Bhati stated that the Union Government seeks permission to assign additional duty to the officers of the SIT.
A Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India, Justice U.U. Lalit and Justice Bela M. Trivedi allowed both the applications. However, with respect to the application seeking assignment of additional duties, a caveat was introduced by the Bench.
"The first application seeking voluntary retirement is allowed, while the second application is allowed subject to the stipulation that the concerned officials shall continue to be part of the SIT till a final decision in that behalf is taken by this Court. It shall, of course, be open to the authorities to entrust certain additional work till that stage is arrived at by this Court."
During the course of the hearing, Amicus Curiae, Ms. Menaka Guruswamy raised concern regarding the closure reports. But, the Bench was not inclined to get into the said issue at the stage where it was only deciding applications filed by the Union Government.
Senior Advocate, Mr. Colin Gonsalves, appearing on behalf of the petitioner objected to the claim of the Centre that the investigation conducted by the SIT is complete. He argued -
"Exactly, 10% investigation has been done."
He added that the application seeking permission to assign additional work to the officers of the SIT is a polite way to seek disbandment of the SIT.
"That is a polite way of saying disbanding."
Mr. Gonsalves submitted, "Kindly see the remaining 80% of the work to be done."
Both Mr. Gonsalves and the Amicus argued that SIT has not yet completed an investigation in all the matters entrusted to them.
The Bench noted that, in the order dated 14.07.2017, the assignment to investigate was only with respect to three categories of cases, since for the other categories there were only mere allegations and no concrete material to proceed on. As argued by Mr. Gonsalves it appears that later material was provided to substantiate the allegations in the other categories as well. However, the Bench thought it fit not to decide these submissions at the present stage. It recorded in the order the issues that needs to be decided by the appropriate Bench before which the matter is listed next.
"The matter shall be gone into principally on two issues, namely, the status report submitted by the authorities and whether certain additional cases must also be enquired into and investigated by the authorities as projected by Ms. Guruswamy and Mr. Gonsalves, learned Senior Advocates."
At the end, Mr. Gonsalves informed the Bench that certain matters on the issue of sanction were pending before the Manipur High Court. He beseeched the Bench to pass orders in that regard. Accordingly, the Bench requested the High Court to dispose of the issues at the earliest, preferably within a period of 6 months.
The matters are to be listed before the appropriate Bench for deciding the entirety of the same on 15th November, 2022.
[Case Title: Extra Judicial Execution Victim And Anr. v. Union of India And Ors. WP(Crl) No. 129/2012]
Click Here To Read/Download Order