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Manipur in the Supreme Court

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Kangla Online reported:

The Supreme Court, which relentlessly strove to bring to book perpetrators of the fake encounter killings of Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram Prajapati in Gujarat, has an explosive situation on its hands as the National Human Rights Commission informed it that 191 fake encounter killings took place in the country in the last five years.

In response to Manipur`s alleged unaddressed extra-judicial killings, the NHRC in an affidavit said in the last five years, from 2007 to 2012, it had received 1,671 complaints/information regarding fake encounters.

“The commission in the last five years has awarded monetary compensation to the tune of Rs 10.51 crore in 191 cases,” it said in an affidavit. The commission awards compensation in the range of Rs 5-10 lakh to the kin of victims if it comes to the conclusion after inquiry that it was a fake encounter.

NGOs `Extra-Judicial Execution Victims Families Association of Manipur` through Neena N and `Human Rights Alert` through Babloo Loitongbam had requested the court to set up a Special Investigation Team to inquire into the extra-judicial killings in the state. Another petition by Suresh Singh through advocate S Biswajeet Meitei alleged that continuance of AFSPA had led to a spurt in extra-judicial killings and sought its withdrawal from Manipur.

The NHRC gave its response to the 71 cases of alleged fake encounter complaints it had dealt with relating to Manipur of which only three have been closed. In one case – killing of Thanjam Manorama Chanu on July 12, 2004 – the commission had recently recommended payment of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of the victim but the defence ministry is yet to comply with it.

Though the commission`s guidelines require states to complete mandatory inquiry reports within three months, many cases of alleged extra-judicial killings reported from Manipur have been pending with the NHRC since 2007 as the state has not provided the key investigation reports. Of the 68 pending cases, five incidents dated back to 2007, 17 to 2008 and 19 to 2009, the NHRC said.

To enable it to deal with such cases expeditiously, NHRC said, “It would be appropriate if the Supreme Court directs all the states to strictly comply with the guidelines/recommendation issued by the commission without fail, both in letter and spirit.”

DNA quoted a PTI report:

The Supreme Court on Thursday said a proper probe is needed into various encounter killings in Manipur and suggested formation of a Special Investigating Team to probe into some of those cases, a proposition opposed by the NHRC and Centre.

Observing that situation in the state is not normal, a bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai said further investigation needs to done as in some cases judicial enquiry came to conclusion that people were killed in fake encounters.

“Why there should not be a proper investigation? There is more than meets the eye. So many encounters took place. Situation is not normal. We are concerned about the failure of constitutional scheme,” the bench said.

One of the petitioners contended that CBI can be directed to inquire into those cases but the bench said it might not be practical solution as agency would take years to complete the probe. “What would CBI do? It would take years and years to complete the probe,” the bench observed.

The proposition of setting up SIT was opposed by the Centre and the NHRC (National Human Rights Commissions). The Commission said it would not be possible for SIT to probe such a large number of cases.

The apex court expressed surprise on how a 12-year old boy, said to be a militant, was killed in the state. “How can a 12-year old boy be a terrorist?,” the bench said adding “We expect NHRC to be more effective in dealing with such cases.”

The counsel appearing for NHRC, however, submitted that the commission can not enforce its guidelines as it lacks penal powers. “SIT may not be a proper solution as the number of incidents are so high. What requires is a proper guidelines and its effective implementation,” the commission said.

The Centre, meanwhile, contended that a one-sided picture has been portrayed by the petitioner before the apex court and the situation is not so grim in the state. “The petitioner has tried to present a very gloomy picture of Manipur, as if people of the state are completely alienated. It is submitted that this is not the correct position. While the state of Manipur is facing the insurgency problem and the police and armed forces are dealing with that problem to the best of their capabilities, the common man is not generally affected by such counter-insurgency operations,” it said.

The association said in all, over 2000 odd extra-judicial killings have taken place in the state, but no one has been held guilty till date. It alleged innocent people with no criminal records have been killed by security forces and no proper investigation has been done in such cases. “Not only were there no criminal investigations and prosecutions of the guilty, even departmental enquiries were not conducted and no policemen or personnel of the security forces were punished departmentally for their actions.

“The magisterial enquiries that took place sometimes were conducted by the executive magistrates under the cover of secrecy and most often without intimation to the eyewitnesses and the members of the families. They were conducted as an eyewash,” the petition said.


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