SC to hear petition by 355 Army officers

A Special Bench monitoring the CBI investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings in Manipur will hear a petition filed by 355 Army officers in the Supreme Court, alleging “persecution” by agencies such as the CBI for doing their duty in the insurgency-hit areas of Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern States. The petition came up for hearing before a three-judge Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur, S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta on Monday. However, Justice Lokur told senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi and Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for Colonel Amit Kumar and other Army officers, that the petition should be heard by a Bench comprising himself and Justice U.U. Lalit. It was this Bench of Justices Lokur and Lalit, in a July 2016 judgment, that ended the immunity provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA). The judgment declared that “there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial by a criminal court”. The Bench, which is hearing a PIL petition seeking an investigation into 1,528 cases of extrajudicial killings in Manipur, constituted an SIT on July 14 last year and ordered the filing of chargesheets. Justice Lokur posted the Army officers’ petition for hearing on September 4.

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