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SC raps Army for 'excessive use' of Arms Act in disturbed areas

Ruling is a setback to the Centre and the Army, which had argued that the Army Act gave immunity to security personnel from being prosecuted by criminal courts

New Delhi: The Supreme Court yesterday said that the Army cannot use excessive force in its counter-insurgency operations in areas declared disturbed under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). The apex court also held that criminal courts do have the jurisdiction to look into cases of alleged excesses by the armed forces in areas declared disturbed.

Army Jawans patrol Khonchipora village in Tangmarg following an encounter with the militants. file pic
Army Jawans patrol Khonchipora village in Tangmarg following an encounter with the militants. file pic

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Uday Umesh Lalit, however, reserved its verdict on the question of ordering a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into more than 1,500 cases of allegedly staged shootouts in Manipur. The ruling is a setback to the Centre and the Army, which had argued that the Army Act gives immunity to armed forces personnel from being prosecuted by criminal courts.

The court verdict came on a petition by the associations of the families of the people who were allegedly killed by the armed forces in Manipur since 1978. The petitioner associations had sought an SIT probe into 1,528 such killings.

Taking note of the submission by the National Human Rights Commission that it was a toothless body, SC sought Centre’s response as to whether it was bound by the recommendations that the rights body makes. The court said that it will examine the issue.

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