SC strikes at the army’s im­mu­nity, spe­cial pow­ers Snipers shoot 5 US po­lice­men dead

QUES­TIONS AFSPA Says it can’t use ex­ces­sive or re­tal­ia­tory force in trou­bled ar­eas

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Bhadra Sinha bhadra.sinha@hin­dus­tan­times.com Peo­ple in Ma­nipur protest against civil­ian deaths. Yash­want Raj letters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The Supreme Court dealt a blow to the army’s im­mu­nity un­der a con­tro­ver­sial law on Fri­day, say­ing it can’t use “ex­ces­sive or re­tal­ia­tory force” even in trou­bled places, and agreed to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into hun­dreds of al­leged il­le­gal killings by se­cu­rity forces in Ma­nipur.

The Armed Forces (Spe­cial Pow­ers) Act (Afspa), which shields troops from pros­e­cu­tion and is in force in parts of the north­east and Kash­mir, is blamed by hu­man rights groups for il­le­gal killings and ar­bi­trary de­ten­tions by se­cu­rity forces. The mil­i­tary de­nies mis­us­ing the law.

Fri­day’s court ver­dict came on pe­ti­tions from rights groups de­mand­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI) or any spe­cial team into 1,528 al­leged cases of “ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings” by the army in Ma­nipur in a dozen years through to 2012. “If mem­bers of our armed forces are de­ployed and em­ployed to kill cit­i­zens of our coun­try on the mere al­le­ga­tion or sus­pi­cion that they are ‘en­emy’, not only the rule of law but our democ­racy would be in grave dan­ger,” the top court said. “So­ci­ety and the courts ob­vi­ously can­not and do not ac­cept such a death (ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings) caused by the State since it is de­struc­tive of the rule of law and plainly un­con­sti­tu­tional,” a bench headed by Jus­tice MB Lokur said.

The re­marks are the strong­est ju­di­cial re­buke yet of the army’s spe­cial shoot-to-kill pow­ers, which trace their ori­gins to a Bri­tish-era or­di­nance used to sup­press the Quit In­dia Move­ment of 1942. It said the sit­u­a­tion in Ma­nipur was, at best, an in­ter­nal dis­tur­bance and not a “war-like” threat to na­tional se­cu­rity. “The army’s over­sight mech­a­nism is ro­bust,” an army of­fi­cer, who did not wish to be named.

Five po­lice of­fi­cers were killed in a sniper at­tack in Dal­las, Texas that was likely car­ried out to avenge the fa­tal po­lice shoot­ings of two African Amer­i­can men else­where in the US ear­lier this week.

Seven other of­fi­cers were wounded in what is be­ing called the worst as­sault on law en­force­ment of­fi­cers in US his­tory since the Septem­ber 11, 2001 ter­ror at­tacks, when 72 per­son­nel from 10 agen­cies died.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, in War­saw for a NATO sum­mit, said the whole na­tion was “hor­ri­fied” by the “vi­cious, cal­cu­lated and de­spi­ca­ble at­tack on law en­force­ment”. Dal­las po­lice chief David Brown said a sus­pect, later iden­ti­fied as for­mer US army sol­dier Micah X John­son, was killed af­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions failed to make him sur­ren­der. He cited re­cent killings of black men (by white po­lice of­fi­cers) to say he wanted to “kill white peo­ple, es­pe­cially white of­fi­cers”. White po­lice of­fi­cers killed an African Amer­i­can man in Louisiana state on Mon­day and an­other in Min­nesota state on Wed­nes­day, whose death was streamed live by his girl­friend.

Brown said the sniper was “up­set about Black Lives Mat­ter”, an equal rights cam­paign of­ten de­scribed as the mod­ern day equiv­a­lent of the civil rights move­ment of the 1960s.

HT FILE

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.