Killings in Nagaland
The Supreme Court on 19th July, 2022 stayed proceedings against 30 army personnel booked by the State police in connection with the killing of 14 civilians in Nagaland’s Mon district in December 2021.
A division bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice V Ramasubramanian was hearing two pleas, one of which was filed by Anjali Gupta, wife of Major Ankush Gupta, one of the army officers booked by the Nagaland Police.
Gupta sought quashing of the FIR, the findings and recommendations of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the State government, and all other ancillary proceedings arising out of the incident including the complaint filed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
While staying the proceedings, Court further remarked that no investigation had been conducted into the “death of a paratrooper during the conflict.”
In the said incident, the Army’s counter-insurgency unit had opened fire at civilians mistaking them for militants, following an intelligence tip-off on the likely movement of militants. Those fired on were residents of Oting village returning home in a pick-up van after work at a coal mine.
Court was informed that the accused officials were only performing their bonafide duties as directed by the Union of India, but the SIT so constituted acted in a complete arbitrary, unilateral and illegal manner, by picking and choosing the evidence available before it to appease the public outcry and to assuage the concerns of the chosen few.
As per the plea, SIT and state functionaries allegedly turned a blind eye to the safety of the accused and their family members by revealing their personal information and intelligence received by the accused army men was not taken cognizance of.
The petitioner further contended that SIT attributed criminality to the accused ‘in its zest’ to conclude the probe and appease a section of society on the basis of a ‘lopsided investigation’.
In the said case, the Nagaland Police charge-sheeted against 30 members of 21 Para Special Force. It is to be noted that, the charge sheet opened the mask of the alleged Special Force and showed the naked reality. The case was re-registered by the State Crime Police Station on 5th of December last year under different sections of the IPC and, a Special Investigation Team has been ordered to execute the investigation properly.
In its order, the bench observed that in view of the admitted position that mandatory previous sanction as required under Section 6 of the Armed Forces (Special 4 Powers) Act, 1958 has not been obtained and the court is constrained to pass an interim order staying further proceedings pursuant to 2021 for FIR No. 27 of chargesheet/Final Report of the Special Investigation Team.
Accordingly, it was noticed by the court that the similar writ petition has been entertained by close family members of officers of the Indian Army.
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