SC to hear army officers' plea against prosecution

A two-judge bench had recently summoned the CBI chief and asked him categorically to act against the officers for their alleged role in fake encounters in Manipur.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a plea made by over 350 army officers contending that the recent order by a two-judge bench to register FIRs against their colleagues posted in the areas put under the Armed Forces Special Power Act would have a "chilling and numbing impact" on military operations in insurgency and proxy war situations.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar fixed the petition filed by Col Amit Kumar and others for consideration on August 20 on a plea for urgent hearing made by advocate Aishwarya Bhati on their behalf.

In their plea, the officers said, "The soldiers never hesitate to lay down their lives in the line of duty to uphold the dignity of Indian flag, however, the extraordinary circumstances in which their colleagues are being persecuted and prosecuted for carrying out their bona fide duty, without making any distinction or determination with regard to act having been done in good faith, without any criminal act or mens rea, has compelled them to approach the court".                                                                            

The officers contended that an extraordinary situation of confusion has arisen with respect to their protection from prosecution as defined under Section 6 and 7 of AFSPA (Assam and Manipur) and AFSPA (J&K).

A two-judge bench had recently summoned the CBI chief and asked him categorically to act against the officers for their alleged role in fake encounters in Manipur.

The petitioner- officers sought to laying down of specific guidelines to protect the bona fide act of soldiers under the AFSPA so that they are not harassed by initiation of criminal proceedings for actions done in good faith in the exercise of their duties to protect sovereignty, integrity and dignity of the country.

They also sought protection from indiscriminate FIRs against the mandate of law.

"Protection of persons acting in good faith under AFSPA is sacrosanct with the sovereignty and integrity of the nation and that in accordance with the mandate of the Act, no prosecution or other legal proceedings can be instituted except with the previous sanction from the central government," they said.

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SC to hear army officers' plea against prosecution

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