Human Rights

SC questions AFSPA, J&K Rights Indicts Army

Raising questions over the central government’s stand on the issue of army and paramilitary forces’ immunity, the SC on 16 June asked the Centre to come clean on the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act. “You cannot say that an armyman can enter any home, commit a rape and say he enjoys immunity as it has been done in discharge of official duties,” said the apex court when senior counsel Ashok Bhan, appearing for the government, voiced diverse views on two separate encounter killings, one involving security personnel in J&K and the other in Assam.

The SC labeled Mr. Bhan’s views as contradictory when, under Sections 6 and 7 of the AFSPA, he sought prosecution of the armymen responsible for killing seven youths in an alleged fake encounter by Rashtriya Rifles in July 2004 in J&K’s Chattisinghpora, whereas, referring to a similar fake encounter by CRPF men in the Assam’s Panka village in April 1983, he spoke of their immunity under Section 17 of the CRPF Act and 197 CrPC.

“How can you adopt diametrically different views?” the bench said, to which Mr. Bhan replied that it was due to “compulsions of his professional duties.” The bench also dismissed Mr. Bhan’s urge to view the two issues separately as “the issue involved vital questions of law related to public” and the matter would be taken up later.

In another development, the independent MLA from Langate in Kupwara district of J&K, Abdul Rashid Sheikh, has expressed contentment over the State Human Rights Commission judgment which indicted security forces for killing innocent people in the April 2010 Machil fake encounter. “Three people killed in the Army firing were neither terrorists nor had they infiltrated into our side via Sona Pindi post of LoC, as was reported by the Army. The intention behind all this drama was to gain rewards and undue promotion by projecting that a heroic operation had been conducted by the forces,” said the SHRC judgment. The MLA said that since SHRC is a constitutional body, its judgment should be implemented by the state government in letter and spirit to promote people’s confidence in the system.  (Saiyed Danish)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 July 2011 on page no. 11

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