Supreme Court issues notice to Centre regarding soldier missing since 1997
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a petition by the mother of Captain Sanjit Bhattacharjee, who has been missing since April 1997 while patrolling with his platoon in the Rann of Kutch bordering Pakistan.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, issued a notice to the Central government and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), seeking their replies to the petition by Kamla Bhattacharjee.
The bench, which also included justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, asked Kamla Bhattacharjee’s counsel to bring similar cases of missing soldiers on record to enable the apex court to seek information about them as well.
Captain Sanjit Bhattacharjee went to patrol with his platoon on the night of April 19-20, 1997. The next day, 15 of the platoon members returned without the Captain and Lance Naik Ram Bahadur Thapa. They have not retuned since.
Captain Sanjit Bhattacharjee’s father died in November 2020. His mother, aged 81, has now approached the top court after having waited for her son for around 24 years. Her petition has sought directions to the government and the MoD to trace her son and apprise the family of his whereabouts.
In 2005, the MoD declared Captain Sanjit Bhattacharjee dead but in 2010, the President’s Secretariat wrote to Kamla Bhattacharjee, informing her that her son’s name had been added to an existing missing POWs (prisoners of war) list, known as “Missing 54”.
A total of 83 defence personnel, including prisoners of war (PoW), were said to be lodged in Pakistan jails. However, Pakistan has not acknowledged the prisoners.