NHRC should be actively involved in Manipur encounter cases probe: Supreme Court

The SC said the NHRC should be "actively involved" in the probe into a large number of cases of alleged extra-judicial killings and fake encounters by the Army, Assam Rifles and the police in Manipur

Published: 02nd July 2018 07:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd July 2018 08:02 PM   |  A+A-

The Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court (File Photo| PTI)


NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today said the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) should be "actively involved" in the probe into a large number of cases of alleged extra-judicial killings and fake encounters by the Army, Assam Rifles and the police in Manipur.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit also asked the CBI's special investigation team (SIT), which is conducting probe in these cases, whether they could share the information, including the drafts of final reports which they have prepared in four cases, with the NHRC.

"NHRC has the power to suo motu investigate a matter. Our last order indicates that the NHRC should be active in it. Two things we are contemplating. The NHRC should be actively involved in the investigation.

"Second is the issue of filing of four final reports. You (SIT) can share the information you have with the NHRC, like your draft final report. Let NHRC also independently applies its mind and get back to us," the court observed.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, appearing for the CBI, said he would take instructions in the matter and get back to the court on these issues.

"The problem is that they (NHRC) should not be like a supervisory authority over us. Secondly, whether these four final reports, which are under scrutiny, can be shared with them now or at what stage it could be shared? I will go back and get back to the court on this," Singh told the bench, which posted the matter for hearing on July 5.

The court, which is hearing a PIL seeking a probe into as many as 1,528 cases of extra-judicial killings in Manipur, had on July 14 last year constituted an SIT and ordered lodging of FIRs and probe into the cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur.

The bench, meanwhile, said the six status reports filed before it by the SIT be handed over the NHRC's counsel.

At the outset, the bench perused the sixth status report filed by the SIT and the ASG said a lot of progress has been made in the ongoing investigation.

"You have progressed a lot but still you are very slow," the bench observed.

To this, the ASG said in some cases forensic reports were awaited and investigation in four matters was complete and the final reports sent for scrutiny.

The bench, after perusing the status report, observed that the Manipur government and its Director General of Police (DGP) have not provided the documents sought by SIT.

However, the ASG and in-charge of SIT, Sharad Aggarwal, told the bench that they have received the documents from the state and were getting "complete cooperation" from the authorities concerned.

The counsel for Manipur told the bench that whenever they have received request from the SIT for documents, these have been provided to the probe team and steps were taken to trace all the documents.

When the NHRC's counsel contended that they have provided all assistance to the SIT, the bench said, "your primary task is protection of human rights.

You also have to be proactive".

The NHRC said its officials had gone to Imphal and also met the family members of the victims.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioners, told the bench that as per the apex court's order, the SIT was supposed to complete probe in 60 cases by June 30 but till now, no final reports have been filed and the probe in only four cases was complete.

He said that earlier the top court had fixed the deadline of December end last year for the SIT to complete the probe but still, the investigation was pending.

"We have 500 plus cases and now we are looking into 60 cases.

They (SIT) are saying that investigation in only four cases have been complete," he said, adding, "the system and the CBI SIT is not working. These are political cases."

"They (SIT) are under the central government and they are not doing it.

We have no faith in the head of SIT.

The NHRC also has become cool and calm.

NHRC has scaled down its work," Gonsalves said and added the SIT's chief should be changed.

The ASG took exception to the submissions and said the SIT was trying its best and such arguments would discourage the team.

He said that within this month, probe in 20 more cases was likely to be completed.

The court had earlier provided a four-point blueprint to the SIT and asked it to expedite investigation in these cases which had come under the scanner of the NHRC, the Gauhati High Court and some commissions of inquiry.

It had in January pulled up the SIT for not registering the required number of FIRs as directed by it earlier.

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