SC dismisses plea challenging FIR against armed forces

The top court brushed aside the fervent request of the Centre, which supported the plea by Col Amit Kumar and others.

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea by over 300 Army personnel against lodging of FIRs against soldiers involved in operations in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir, where AFSPA is in force.

The top court brushed aside the fervent request of the Centre, which supported the plea by Col Amit Kumar and others. The Union government said the issue should be "debated and discussed" so that a mechanism is evolved "where hands of our soldiers do not shake while fighting terrorism."

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) gives special rights and immunity to security forces in carrying out various operations in "disturbed" areas.

The government led by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said that the armed forces were operating in an "altogether different situation" in disturbed areas and a balance has to be struck, but the apex court said that it was for the government, and not the courts, to come out with an internal mechanism so "that if somebody loses his life like this, it should be looked into."

"But who has stopped you from coming out with a mechanism? Why do you require our intervention? These are issues which you have to discuss, not the courts," a bench of justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit told Mehta.

"When there is a loss of life, even in an encounter, should not the human life demands that it should be looked into and an investigation should be done," the bench observed.

Maintaining that the human life has a value, but there has to be a mechanism where hands of our soldiers do not shake while fighting terrorism, Mehta said.

"The fact that over 300 soldiers of our country have to pray for this is itself unfortunate," he said, adding, "It has a demoralising effect. The country cannot afford that our soldiers are demoralised. Please do not stop the debate."

Advocate Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for these army men, told the bench that the plea should be heard with the main matter which relates to alleged extra-judicial killings by the army, the Assam Rifles and the police in insurgency-hit Manipur.

She said one of the directions in the court's earlier verdict in Manipur encounter case "runs counter" to a judgement rendered by a five-judge Constitution bench in 1998.

"If no action is taken at all by the authorities under the Army Act, you cannot say that no investigation can go on," the bench said.

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SC dismisses plea challenging FIR against armed forces

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