What steps have been taken after gunfights found fake, asks SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the government what steps it had taken as a follow up after some people killed in action by the security forces were found to be innocent in a judicial inquiry and compensation was awarded to victims’ families.

“If you think it was a valid ‘encounter’, then why are you paying compensation? Have you challenged any of the orders?” a bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit asked the government.

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The court said this as senior counsel V. Giri appearing for the government told the court that the payment of compensation on the directions of the court is not an admission of an alleged offence.

Not impressed by the government’s response, the court observed: “You have not challenged any order… what does your profile show. Taxpayers money is being paid as compensation and victim loses his life.”

“In 2009 a FIR is filed. There is no cross FIR. Even after a magistrate’s inquiry says that it was not an ‘encounter’. What have you done?” the court asked.

In the meanwhile, the court was told by amicus curiae that both government and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have provided a list of 62 killings that were sought to passed off as of militants by the security forces.

Picking up a random case from the list, the court said that prima facie it appears to be a murder. It noted the victim was not an extremist, and compensation was awarded but not paid.

Finding that government side was not adequately ready to respond to the query on 62 cases, the court asked Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh and Giri to be thorough in their responses.

Adjourning the matter for listing on October 5, the court told the counsel: “You instruct your officials, you should be completely thorough and updated. We can pick any case and ask you for the details.”

In the meanwhile, the court asked the Manipur government to file its reply to a petition by Suresh Singh seeking the repeal of the stringent Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The court direction to Manipur to file its response to the petition came after senior counsel Jayant Bhushan told the court that though the central government has filed its response, Manipur government has yet to spell out its position on the issue.