SC summons CBI chief again over Manipur fake encounters probe
CBI director Alok Kumar Verma, on Monday, was summoned by the Supreme Court to give an explanation for the agency's slow pace of investigation into alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur by Indian security forces. Verma, who was also summoned last week, said that 14 people had been chargesheeted for murders, two chargesheets had been filed, and more would be filed by Tuesday.
"According to you, there are 14 murderers in these cases and they are loafing around Manipur freely? You haven't arrested any of them?" asked the SC bench sharply. "The CBI filed FIRs against dead persons who are victims. This is unbelievable," added the bench.
The Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition seeking investigation into 1,528 alleged cases of fake encounters in Manipur, had asked the CBI to file four chargesheets pertaining to cases involving the army and the Assam Rifles. However, after the agency failed to file them by the July 27 deadline, Verma was summoned on Monday to provide an explanation.
Following up on a 2016 order that demanded a thorough probe into extra-judicial killings in Manipur, the Supreme Court, two weeks ago, had directed the CBI director to form a special team to conduct the probe fast. Earlier, in April, the apex court had directed the Centre and the Manipur government to distinguish cases related to the armed forces and the local police, respectively.
While hearing a PIL related to fake encounters in 2016, the SC had observed that use of "excessive or retaliatory force" by security forces was not permitted under AFSPA, and noted that "democracy would be in grave danger" if citizens were killed merely on suspicion.
The Centre, however, had replied saying that an internal inquiry had already been conducted by the Human Rights Division of the Indian Army and the Defense Ministry. The Army, too, had been miffed by the SC order, saying that it couldn't be subjected to FIRs for carrying out anti-militancy operations in insurgency-prone areas like Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur.