NEW DELHI:The Supreme Court on Monday restrained the Jammu and Kashmir government from initiating any probe against Major Aditya Kumar in connection with the death of three civilians after troops opened fire on people stoning an Army convoy in Shopian. The court observed that he could not be treated like an ordinary criminal.
Soon after the incident on January 27, the Jammu and Kashmir government had filed an FIR against the Army unit involved, under charges of murder and assault, among others. The Army claims the troops had fired in self-defence.During the hearing on a PIL filed by Major Aditya’s father, Lt Col Karamveer Singh, before Chief Justice Dipak Misra, the state government informed the court that Major Aditya had not been named as an accused in the FIR but his name was mentioned in the narrative of the FIR.
At this the bench told senior lawyer Shekhar Naphade, representing the J&K government, “But you can rope him in later. After all, it is a case of an Army officer, not an ordinary criminal.”The court stayed the investigation in the case and slated the next hearing for April 24.
Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that the mere filing of a complaint against Army personnel serving in a disturbed area without the prior sanction of the Centre was barred under Section 7 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
The law officer cited the apex court’s judgements of 2006 and 2014 in support of his contention that without the Centre’s sanction even a complaint against a serving Army officer operating in a disturbed area was prohibited.
At this, Naphade said that the registration of an FIR and even the filing of a charge sheet did not amount to taking cognizance of the offence and thus the Centre’s permission was not required.