India: Supreme Court judgment must lead to justice for Manipur’s fake encounters

Reacting to a Supreme Court order directing the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe scores of alleged extrajudicial executions by police and security force personnel in Manipur, Arijit Sen, Programmes Manager at Amnesty International India, said: “The Supreme Court has offered a hope of justice for the many families in Manipur who have lost their loved ones in fake encounters. There can be no room for impunity for such crimes. Where sufficient evidence is found in the investigations, those suspected, including those with command responsibility, must be prosecuted.

“This ruling must set a precedent for independent civilian investigations and prosecutions into all allegations of rights violations by security forces in areas where the AFSPA is in force. The families of those killed in Manipur have waited far too long for justice. That wait must end now.”

The Supreme Court dismissed the central government’s contention that older cases should not be investigated because of the passage of time, stating: ” Merely because the State has not taken any action and has allowed time to go by, it cannot take advantage of the delay to scuttle an inquiry.”

It also rejected the government’s argument that cases where compensation had been paid should not be investigated, observing: “Compensation has been awarded to the next of kin for the agony they have suffered and to enable them to immediately tide over their loss and for their rehabilitation. This cannot override the law of the land, otherwise all heinous crimes would get settled through payment of monetary compensation.” The Court also stated that there was “no doubt” that the National Human Rights Commission had become a “toothless tiger”, which lacked resources to function effectively, and whose directions were frequently ignored.