The Supreme Court on Friday observed that the Indian army and paramilitary personnel cannot use “excessive and retaliatory force” in Manipur and such instances must be probed. The court was hearing a petition seeking an inquiry by a special investigation team or the CBI into extrajudicial killings in the case.
The bench of Justices M B Lokur and R K Agarwal also sought details of 1,528 fake encounter cases in Manipur, including 62 such cases where FIRs have not even been lodged. The court said it will also examine the claim of NHRC that it was a “toothless tiger” and needed more powers. The encounters should be investigated by an independent agency but it is also open to the army conducting its own inquiry into the allegations.
Due to the implementation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the army and paramilitary personnel exercise enormous powers in the state. This led to immense protest and uprising in the state. A section of the Manipuris feels that power should remain only with the state government. They also feel that the Section 3 of the AFSPA does not specify any time limit. The notification in Manipur issued in 1980 still continues and thereby they feel that they have been deprived of the spirit of liberty, freedom and democracy for too long a period. The exercise by the armed forces of the unchecked powers to arrest, search, seize and even shoot to kill conferred under Section 4 of the Act has resulted in a large-scale violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens. Civil rights activist Irom Sharmila has been on a fast-unto-death since 2000, demanding the repeal of AFSPA, which activists say has lead to human rights violations.