Centre urges SC to recall verdict negating protection to armed forces

Centre urges SC to recall verdict negating protection to armed forces
The Union government on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to recall its July 8, 2016 judgement that directed a probe into 1,528 cases of alleged fake encounters in Manipur in the last 20 years, saying it has hampered the Indian Army’s ability to respond to insurgent and terrorist situations.
 
In a curative petition, the government said, “the action taken by Army during operations cannot be put to judicial scrutiny” and “applying principle of judicial review over action which has taken place in the last two or three decades is detrimental to the morale of the Armed Forces”. It also claimed the judgement would have far-reaching and catastrophic impact on security and integrity of the nation.
 
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi sought urgent hearing in open court on the curative petition filed by the Centre. He mentioned the matter before a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice J S Khehar.
 
Maintaining that it was a question of national security, Rohatgi contended that the fetters imposed by the court verdict was affecting anti-terror and anti-insurgency operations by the Army and that it would bring the morale of the forces down if they were subjected to investigation by the local police after every incident.
 
The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, said it would go through the curative petition and take a call on granting an open court hearing.
 
A curative petition, filed after dismissal of a review petition, is usually heard in chamber by the judges.
 
In its 2016 judgement, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit decided to probe 1,528 cases of alleged fake encounters by security forces and the Manipur police, noting “democracy would be in grave danger” if armed forces were permitted to kill citizens on mere allegation or suspicion that they are enemies of the state.
 
Rejecting Centre's plea that there was a war-like situation in the state, the court had then questioned deployment of security forces in Manipur under the AFSPA since 1958. The top court had on October 6, last also dismissed a review petition of its judgement.
 
In its curative petition, the government said, “The judicial review of military operations will have damaging consequences for operational effectiveness and may erode the fighting power. This in turn could have catastrophic consequences for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the nation.”
 
“The protections available to the Armed Forces under statutes such as the Armed Forces [Special Powers] Act,1958 (AFSPA) and the Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act (UAPA) have been completely negated or bypassed. If the position maintained by the impugned order continues it may, one day, be well-nigh impossible to maintain peace and security,” the government said.
 
The government also maintained that human rights and respect for the life of a human being are kept at the highest pedestal by Indian Army.

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