The Judicial Magistrate First Class, Imphal East has returned an extrajudicial killing case to the CBI for further investigation by rejecting the closure report of investigation submitted by the investigating agency.
The CBI had submitted the closure report of extrajudicial killings of seven persons namely, Oinam Anand, Oinam Pakpa @ Maipaksana, Laisharam Bocha, Chingangbam Gogo, Sinam Ratankumar, Thangpao Kipgen and an unidentified person on the intervening night of October 31, 2009 and November 1, 2009 by personnel of 28 Assam Rifles at Andro Sanapat, Imphal-East district stating that during the course of investigation, conclusion of guilt beyond reasonable doubt could not be made against the security personnel.
The court, after hearing the submission from the special public prosecutor and counsel of the CBI, stated that neither CBI, as an investigation agency, nor this court is required to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt at this stage of investigation. At this stage, only existence of prima facie materials, that is, sufficient materials that warrants trial is required, stated the court.
“The case is highly sensitive, involving the death of seven persons. As such, proper and fair investigation is required in the interest of justice and to ensure that faith of the people in the judicial system is not shaken”, stated the court.
The court stated that, according to submission of special PP for the CBI and counsel of protest petitioners, it is admitted that 28 AR killed the seven deceased persons in an operation in the intervening night of October 31 and November 1 of 2019 at Andro Sanapat.
In connection with the death, an FIR was registered under section 307/34 IPC, section 25 (1-c) Arms Act, section 3 of explosion substance act, 6(1-A) 1WT and section 20 UA (P) Act 2004.
Investigation of the CBI revealed that 88 security personnel had participated in the encounter and concerned authorities of 28 AR provided the names of 28 security personnel in connection with the incident while remaining security personnel, who had participated in the encounter, were not not available by the AR.
The court stated that the conclusion of the final report (closure report) did not yield in pinpointing the specific personnel of the 28 AR who had fired the contact shots and cannot be accepted as 28 AR is not an individual organisation or a private entity. It is an organisation which works under a hierarchy of officers. The officers and other personnel, who were posted at 28 AR, are accountable for the conduct of any personnel in the battalion, the court said.
Therefore, after considering the final report, protest petition and other materials on record placed before the court, the court found sufficient grounds for returning the case to the CBI for further investigation and returned to the CBI.
It may be mentioned that the killing of seven persons by personnel of 28 Assam Rifles at Andro Sanapat is one of the 39 incidents being investigated by the CBI out of the 1,528 cases being submitted to the Supreme Court by EEFVAM and HRA.
The CBI submitted its closure report to JMIC-Imphal East on November 14, 2019 on the ground of lack of evidence stating that “the circumstance from which the conclusion of guilt beyond reasonable doubt is to be drawn could not be established during the course of investigation”.
Advocate N Subhaschandra, counsel of the EEVFAM and deceased family, filed a protest petition praying for rejecting the closure report; for directing the IO for further investigation of the case and for making charge against the accused persons; for taking cognizance of the offence levelled against the accused persons.
Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families’ Association, Manipur (EEVFAM) warmly welcomed the order of the Judicial Magistrate First Class Imphal East, on June 3, 2022 directing the SIT/CBI to conduct further investigation.