SC withdraws PIL seeking SIT probe in “Shopian gunfight”

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Srinagar : A Public Interest Litigation, seeking a probe by Special Investigation Team into claims by government forces regarding the “encounter” at Amshipora Shopian on 18 July  this year, was withdrawn even as the Supreme Court granted petitioner liberty to file same before the J-K High Court.

Three “militants” were claimed to have been killed by army who were “later” joined by police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force. However, the families of the three persons from Rajouri, who after failing to contact their loved ones since 17 July and after seeing pictures on social media claimed slain to be their kin who had gone to Shopian for “labour”.

A bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari after hearing the petitioner through counsel allowed him to withdraw the petition to raise the issues before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

“The Writ Petition is dismissed as withdrawn with the aforesaid liberty,” the apex court said in an order..

The PIL was filed by Jammu and Kashmir Reconciliation Front through its Chairman Dr Sandeep Mawa, a member of minority Kashmiri Pandit community, seeking probe into the killing of trio identified in the PIL as Abrar Ahmad, Imtiyaz Ahmad and Abrar Ahmad who were killed as “suspected militants” on  18 July  at Shopian.

  1. “This PIL has been filed to bring forth the Human Right violations manipulated under the emblem of ‘Encounter’ where three labourers namely Ibrar Ahmad (16), Muhammed Ibrar (21) and Imtiaz Ahmad (26) have been killed on 18.07.2020 at Shopian district of J-K,” reads the PIL while seeking a direction for an investigation by a SIT consisting of members other than from J-K Police to be monitored by the Supreme Court in keeping with its law laid down in case: ExtraJudicial Execution Victims Families Association v Union of India (2017) and People’s Union for Civil Liberties v State of Maharashtra (2014).

The petitioner had also sought to quash the investigation imitated by J-K Police in the case it has registered with regard to the “encounter” for being in contravention to the law laid down by the apex court in the case.

The petitioner had also sought direction to the senior superintendent of Police to register an FIR and investigate the matter as per the guidelines formulated under Article 141 in People’s Union for Civil Liberties v State of Maharashtra (2014).

The petitioner stated that “upon promulgation of J-K Reorganization Act, 2019 the J-K State Human Rights Commission ceased to exist and presently there is no forum or body to look into the matters related to Human Right Violations in J-K. “Moreover there is no designated court to take cognizance of complaints related to Human Rights Violations as mandated under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (Section 31) made applicable to the U T of J-K”, it said.

While the PIL had sought direction to Union Ministry of Home Affairs to constitute a High Powered Committee to analyze the aspect of criminalizing custodial killings and Fake encounters by way of a special legislation, it had also sought direction to the Ministry to Constitute the State Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Courts in terms of Section 21 and 31 respectively in the territory of J-K.

The PIL had also sought direction to the Ministry to pay a compensation of Rs one Crore to each family of the victims.

The petitioner submits that the law down by the apex court on the subject of extrajudicial killings and fake encounters in the form of guidelines, even declared as law under Article 141 do not find its way to implementation.

These guidelines, the petitioner said, are instead violated at will as in the instant case, constraining him to seek indulgence of the top Court.

The petitioner had submitted that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has customarily ignored the mandate of law judicially evolved by the Supreme Court to contain, prevent, investigate or penalize the custodial killings and fake encounters “which is predominant in the instant case”.

The petitioner also submitted that the cardinal principle of criminal jurisprudence is that the “one alleged of abuse of powers cannot be permitted to investigate his own cause”.

“The situation becomes vulnerable when the Shopian Police and Army primarily involved in the fake encounter are simultaneously investigating their own cause,” he had pleaded. (GNS)

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