NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed discharge of Senior Superintendent of Police Mahesh Bhardwaj in the NHRC from the SIT probing alleged fake encounters in Manipur.
Bhardwaj has been promoted as DIG in his parent AGMU cadre.
A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose allowed the plea filed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking release of its senior officer and directed the Centre to expeditiously provide a suitable officer to the commission.
The Officer may be allowed to discharge his post and join the promoted post in his parent cadre and the Centre is directed to provide a suitable officer expeditiously to the NHRC, the bench said.
At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre referred to the prayers in the application, and said this is a matter where our soldiers are fighting on borders in Manipur and they are facing cases.
The bench said that it does not have any other interlocutory applications before it except for discharge of the officer.
It said that during the last hearing, amicus curiae senior advocate Maneka Guruswamy had something to say on the issue.
Mehta said that amicus curiae have no role in deciding as to what the CBI should do and amicus can only assist on law.
He said that court should demarcate role of amicus in such cases and questioned that can the amicus say that CBI should ask a particular to be transferred and another officer be asked to probe.
Mehta submitted that these things are happening in every matter and amicus curiae can only assist on question of law and nothing else.
The bench told Mehta, "You are a senior officer and Solicitor-General, we know what amicus does. Let us not get into all that. Tell us who you will replace the officer with".
Mehta replied that he will submit a list from which the amicus can select.
Senior Advocate Basava Patil, appearing for the NHRC, said that this officer was with SIT and now promoted as DIG in his parent cadre and the court should let the promotion be given effect.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, who is appearing for the NGO, said the new officer must come immediately as there is a huge backlog of 655 cases of alleged extra-judicial killing in Manipur.
On March 10, the top court said that it will hear the NHRC's plea seeking release of the officer.
Guruswamy had told the bench that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also filed two pleas for release of its officers from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) but none of these applications have been served upon her.
She had sought time to file a reply on applications filed by the NHRC and the CBI.
The court, which is hearing a plea seeking a probe into 1,528 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur, had on July 14, 2017, constituted an SIT and ordered lodging of FIRs and probe into many of these cases.
In July 2018, two officers of the NHRC, including Bhardwaj, were included as members of the SIT.
On July 5, 2018, the apex court had directed the CBI to file final reports in four cases of alleged extra-judicial killings and fake encounters by the Army, Assam Rifles and police in Manipur by July 27, 2018, saying violation of human rights cannot be tolerated.
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 as well as some commissions of inquiry.