NEW DELHI, January 8 (Agencies): The Supreme Court has appointed a three-member commission to investigate allegations of fake encounters by security forces in Manipur.
The top court said former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde, former chief election commissioner JM Lyngdoh and former Karnataka police chief Ajay Kumar Singh will be in the commission.
The Supreme Court has held that it was “not open” to the State to take shelter behind the number of policemen and other security personnel killed to justify illegal custodial deaths and fake encounters.
“For this court, the life of a policeman or a member of the security forces is no less precious and valuable than any other person. The lives lost in the fight against terrorism and insurgency are indeed the most grievous loss.
But to the State it is not open to cite the numbers of policemen and security forces killed to justify custodial death, fake encounter or what this court had called ‘administrative liquidation’,” said a Bench led by Justice Aftab Alam.
Reminding the State that such a mode of elimination was not permitted by the Constitution, the Bench said in a situation where the court finds a person’s rights, especially the right to life, under assault by the State or the agencies of the State, “it must step in and stand with the individual and prohibit the State or its agencies from violating the rights guaranteed under the Constitution. That is the role of this Court and it would perform it under all circumstances.”
Earlier, a petition in the court had alleged more than 1,500 fake encounters in Manipur in the last three decades and demanded a probe by a special investigation team.
The Supreme Court said six encounters would be investigated to begin with and the rest would be considered later.
The court has also directed the commission to examine the functioning of Manipur Police and security forces.
In case the commission finds that their actions transgress the legal bounds, the commission shall make its recommendations for keeping the police and the security forces within the legal bounds without compromising the fight against insurgency, the court said.
The commission will submit its report to the court within 12 weeks.
The Centre had opposed the commission and pitched for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation. But the court had said: “Even magisterial reports of encounters are not sent to the National Human Rights Commission. There`s an urgent need for an independent probe by people of eminence.”