Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine
Accountability and Control
No state of exception
- Indian Express Editorial
The Supreme Court’s direction to the CBI on Friday to probe nearly a hundred
alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur underlines a welcome intent to shine
the light on the shadowy world of counter-insurgency operations in the
northeastern states. Fighting terrorism is no doubt an arduous task, but
evidence seems to suggest that, all too often, security forces tend to ignore
due process during operations and seek legal protection under laws like the
Armed Forces Special Powers Act to relegate complaints of rights violations.
When the PIL filed by Extra Judicial Execution Victims Families Association,
seeking a probe and compensation in 1,528 alleged extra-judicial killings in
Manipur from 2000 to 2012 by security forces and police, came up for hearing in
the Supreme Court, the Centre had pleaded that the security forces be exempted
from any probe since the alleged killings were not premeditated murders but
“cases of military operations”.
The army went one step further to allege local bias in the judicial inquiries
that indicted its men while pleading that FIRs cannot be registered against its
personnel in insurgency-hit areas like Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir. The court,
however, has made it amply clear that security operations even in “disturbed
areas” are not beyond the pale of law. The AFSPA, a relic of the colonial
imagination that saw all dissenters as enemies of the state, empowers security
personnel to override the civil administration in “disturbed areas”. Courts and
commissions, in light of the Act’s operational history, have proposed elaborate
measures to prevent its abuse. The Manipur petition, however, suggests that the
security forces — in this case, the army, Assam Rifles and Manipur Police — may
not have always followed them.
The Supreme Court’s persistence in unveiling the truth about the cases the
PIL has highlighted, is admirable. Soon after the petition was admitted, the
court set up a commission under Justice Santosh Hegde to examine six cases,
which found that the encounters were not genuine. Last year, the SC, while
ruling that the AFSPA does not allow the security forces to use excessive force,
privileged the rights and freedoms of citizens over the government’s claim that
investigating complaints against security personnel would dampen their morale.
In April, the court ordered an SIT to probe three cases of rape and murder.
Now, an additional 97 encounters are to be probed and the CBI has been told to
complete the investigation by December 31, 2017. The message from the court is
unambiguous: There can’t be any state of exception when it comes to respecting
the rights and freedoms of its citizens.
(Source- The Indian Express)
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