The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a plea of the Jammu and Kashmir government that the police does not require prior sanction before lodging an FIR against Army personnel, as was done in January’s Shopian firing case involving a senior army officer.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, however, did not agree to the J&K government’s contention that either all states, or states like Assam and Mizoram where Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) is in force, be made parties, since the police’s powers to register FIRs against army personnel involved in cognisable offences, would be directly affected. The bench posted the matter for hearing on the 30th of this month.
The fresh plea of the state government assumes significance as the apex court had, in March, halted its probe into the Shopian firing incident, involving Major Aditya Kumar, in which three civilians were killed.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing the Centre, said there was a total bar on such legal proceedings against army personnel under the AFSPA and such FIRs can be lodged in exceptional circumstances with the prior sanction only from the Centre.
Countering his contentions, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the state government, referred to two apex court judgements and said there was no bar on the police from registering an FIR and investigating a case against Army personnel, if a cognisable offence was brought to light. He added that the AFSPA provision does not put any bar in this regard.