J-K govt says Major Aditya not named in Shopian firing FIR; SC halts probe till April 24
The Supreme Court had on February 12 restrained the Jammu and Kashmir police from taking any ‘coercive steps’ against Army officers, including Major Aditya Kumar, who was earlier reportedly named as accused in the case.india Updated: Mar 05, 2018 23:38 IST
The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) government on Monday told the Supreme Court that Major Aditya Kumar was not named in the Shopian firing FIR, as the court put on hold till April 24 the probe into the incident.
Three civilians were killed when the army opened fire at a mob in Ganaupora village in Shopian on January 27, prompting chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to order an inquiry.
The FIR in the case accuses members of the 10 Garhwal Rifles unit of murder, attempt to murder and endangering life.
“He is an army officer and not an ordinary criminal,” a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, fixing April 24 to hear the matter for final disposal.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Major Kumar’s father, lieutenant colonel Karamveer Singh, who wants the FIR against his son quashed.
The court had on February 12 stayed criminal proceedings against Major Kumar after Lt Col Singh said his son was performing his duty and had been “wrongly and arbitrarily” named. The court’s order means police cannot summon the soldiers for interrogation or ask them to cooperate in the investigation. Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for J&K government opposed the stay of investigation. “Nobody has the licence to kill,” he said.
“Let the probe continue. The court has already protected the officer by saying that no coercive steps shall be taken against the officer. A lot needs to be found out,” Naphade submitted.
The Centre came out in support of the petitioner, criticising the state for registering a criminal case against a serving army officer without its permission.
Attorney General KK Venugopal objected to J&K’s stand. “Everyday soldiers are being killed. Mobs gather outside police stations to pelt stones. Do they have a licence,” he questioned.
Earlier, Venugopal came out in support of the petitioner and quoted section 7 of Armed Forces Special Power Act of 1990, which provides that no prosecution or legal proceedings can be instituted against a serving army officer without the sanction of Central government.
The law officer said the interpretation of the law according to a five-judge bench judgement of the top court meant that even an FIR could not be registered against an officer.
Naphade countered saying Saying that Kumar was not even named in the FIR as accused, he said the Centre’s nod was not required to file an FIR. Permission would be needed only at the time of filing of chargesheet.
The FIR had created a huge uproar and pitted ruling partners PDP and BJP against each other in the border state. The army, in its statement after the incident had said it opened fire in self-defence after a convoy was pelted with stones by protesters who allegedly tried to snatch the weapon of a soldier and lynch him.