Shopian firing case: Jammu and Kashmir human rights body calls SC order 'against norms of criminal procedure'

The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a human rights organisation in Kashmir, called the Supreme Court order staying police investigation against Major Aditya Kumar of 10 Garhwal Rifles "irregular" and "against the established norms of criminal procedure".

The JKCCS published a press release on Monday entitled "Judicial intervention for impunity continues" and criticised the Supreme Court order. It said that the families of the victims of the firing in Ganovpora had informed them that the killings were targeted and unprovoked.

A teargas shell explodes near the protesters who were clashing with security forces following a protest against the alleged killing of two youth Army firing in Shopian district of South Kashmir. PTI

A teargas shell explodes near the protesters who were clashing with security forces following a protest against the alleged killing of two youth Army firing in Shopian district of South Kashmir. PTI

The organisation, in its press release, said:"Courts rarely interfere in ongoing investigations. The FIR is a recording of information of a cognisable offence (for example murder and other serious offences). When in receipt of such information, the police are duty bound to lodge the FIR and begin investigations," they said.

JKCCS added that “self-defence” and other such justifications for the action could not be considered at the stage of registration of FIR and it could not be the basis to quash the FIR, as the petition in the Supreme Court sought. "The army is entitled to its rival version of events (including in the form of a counter-FIR) but the claims of the army cannot be used to prevent the registration of an FIR at this stage and investigations on the version of the victims or other persons that the army firing was an act of murder," the body said.

The organisation said that proper or fair investigations were a rarity for the armed forces in the state, and hence it was not surprising that impunity for the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir was "entrenched".

"While the police rarely file FIRs against the armed forces, it is even more rare for them to carry out any proper or fair investigations resulting in the filing of a chargesheet. Further, even when investigations indict the armed forces, either sanction for prosecution under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is declined or the armed forces successfully transfer the cases to the opaque court-martial process that often result in acquittals."

The body, in its press release, further accused the Supreme Court of "favouring" the armed forces, citing the examples of the 2000 Pathribal fake encounter and 2010 killing of Zahid Farooq. It added that the apex court restricted the powers of the lower judiciary, and in this case, even curtailed the powers of the police vis-à-vis the armed forces.

JKCCS stated that the legal impunity for the forces was a consequence of a larger "moral and political impunity" for their actions in Jammu and Kashmir. "Past actions of the State – including the judiciary — under Indian domestic law that have ensured impunity for the armed forces, and the reality of Jammu and Kashmir – an armed conflict – clearly indicate that justice is only possible in Jammu and Kashmir under the broader framework of international law, including international humanitarian law," the body said.

JKCCS said that the scuttling of legal processes against the armed forces is only "strengthening the belief that there can be no expectation of justice from the Indian State and its institutions."

SC restrains Jammu and Kashmir Police from 'coercive steps'

The Supreme Court on Monday restrained the Jammu and Kashmir Police from taking any "coercive steps" against army officers, including Major Aditya Kumar, who has been named as accused in the Shopian firing case in which three civilians were killed.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud also asked the counsel for Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh, the father of Major Aditya Kumar, to share the copies of his petition with the office of Attorney General KK Venugopal and the Jammu and Kashmir government. Besides seeking Venugopal's assistance in dealing with the matter, the bench asked the state government to file its response to the plea within two weeks.

Singh said in his petition that his son, a major in 10 Garhwal Rifles, was "wrongly and arbitrarily" named in the FIR as the incident relates to an army convoy that was on bonafide military duty in an area under AFSPA and was isolated by an "unruly and deranged" mob pelting stones, causing damage to the military vehicles.

Three civilians were killed when army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village of Shopian, prompting Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to order an inquiry into the incident.

The FIR was registered against the personnel of 10 Garhwal Rifles, including Major Kumar, under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 12, 2018 20:34:34 IST

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