No grudge against officers approaching Supreme Court: Defense Minister
(Sourced from PTI)
Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said she has no "grudge" against a group of Army officers who have approached the Supreme Court to present their views on cases relating to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Sitharaman said the officers have chosen to go to the court as there is a "certain sense of worry" in their minds which she can understand.
Around 700 Army officers and soldiers have approached SC, requesting it to protect the bonafide action of soldiers under AFSPA, and voicing concerns over reported move to dilute some provisions of law which protects the forces from prosecution without Center's approval. "Grievance redressal is a right. I'll never want to say if you have a grievance, you should not voice it," Sitharaman said.
"There are institutional mechanisms available for grievance redressal within the Army, Navy and Air Force. So it's possible for men or officers to have grievance redressal institutionalized within the forces," Sitharaman said. "But if in the case of AFSPA, they have chosen to go to the court, there is a certain sense of worry in the minds of men and officers," she said.
Sitharaman said AFSPA law was brought "to address situations which are absolutely unique." "Now, if that is, from the point of view of human rights, taken to the court and the court is giving a full hearing and justice to hear everybody out, and if officers and men felt they also would want to give their argument, I cannot grudge that," she said.
J&K, Manipur, and a number of states in the North East were brought under the AFSPA which gives the security forces special rights and immunity in carrying out various operations. There has been a long-standing demand from various quarters in J&K and the Northeast to withdraw it. The Supreme Court has been hearing cases relating to alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur by forces.