SC issues notice to Centre, J&K govt over Shopian firing, says no 'coercive action' against Major Aditya Kumar

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government, seeking a reply within two weeks over the Shopian firing case in which three civilians were killed.

The Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar on Monday directed that no coercive action can be taken against those named in the FIR till the government responds in the next two weeks, reported CNN-News18. This means that Major Aditya Kumar cannot be arrested, or coerced by police officials.

The court also asked the counsel for Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh, Kumar's father, to share the copies of his petition with the office of Attorney General KK Venugopal and the Jammu and Kashmir government.

"The court is acknowledging the fact that the matter requires consideration of the highest court of the land and has stopped proceedings in FIR. The state or Jammu and Kashmir police can't take action against Major Aditya for what he did in exercise of his duty," said Mukul Rohatgi, the petitioner's counsel.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The Jammu and Kashmir police filed an FIR against Kumar and other unnamed army personnel involved. Kumar was the only officer identified by his name in the FIR. The case was registered under Section 302 (murder) and Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code.

Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Karamveer Singh, Kumar's father, filed a petition in the apex court to quash the FIR. It is uncommon for police personnel to name army soldiers involved in such firing, especially in states where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is enforced.

Singh, in his petition, said his son was "wrongly and arbitrarily" named in the FIR as the incident related to an army convoy that was on bonafide military duty in an area under the AFSPA and was isolated by an "unruly and deranged" mob pelting stones, causing damage to military vehicles.

Singh also said that his son's intention was to save army personnel and property and the fire was inflicted "only to impair and provide a safe escape from a savage and violent mob engaged in terrorist activity".

He also sought direction for guidelines to protect the rights of soldiers and adequate compensation so that no army personnel is harassed by initiation of criminal proceedings for bonafide actions in exercise of their duties.

On 27 January, three youths were killed in Ganowpora village of Shopian district in Jammu and Kashmir when the army fired at stone pelters. The police registered an FIR against 10 Garhwal Rifles unit of the army in this firing incident. The army had said the soldiers fired in self-defence after an administrative convoy was attacked by stone pelters in the village.

In response to the FIR, the Indian Army filed a counter FIR on 31 January. "The major was not present at the site of the incident. He was around 200 metres away from it... he was in the vicinity of the spot," a source told PTI.

In his plea, Singh also referred to last year's incident of a mob lynching DSP Mohammed Ayub Pandith to apprise the top court about the situation in the state and the condition in which army officials were working to control violent mobs in Kashmir.

While the BJP has demanded the FIR against the army be withdrawn in the Shopian firing case, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said the investigation into the  deaths of the civilians would be taken to its "logical conclusion".

Jammu and Kashmir Police chief SP Vaid earlier said that registration of the FIR naming the major was just the beginning of the investigation and the army's version would be taken into account as well.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 12, 2018 15:16:41 IST

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