The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Manipur High Court to dispose of sanction issue pending before the high court, preferably within six months, in extrajudicial killing cases.
The Supreme Court also allowed interim applications filed by the Union Government pertaining to officers of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was entrusted with the investigation of extrajudicial killings in the state pursuant to an order of the apex court in July 2017.
The Union government seeks to relieve an officer of the SIT, who seeks to voluntarily retire, and to assign additional work to the officers of SIT. The SC allowed both interim applications of the Union Government.
The interim application was filed in a writ petition preferred by the Extrajudicial Execution Victim and the Human Rights Alert claiming to have compiled 1,528 alleged extrajudicial executions carried out by the police and security forces in Manipur.
Additional Solicitor General, Aishwarya Bhati, submitted that following the SC direction for the SIT to conduct investigation with respect to three categories of cases, namely, Commissions of Inquiry cases (35); Judicial inquiry and High Court cases (37) and National Human Rights Commission cases (23), it has been completed, except in four cases, where the charge-sheets/final reports (18 in numbers) have been filed by the police authorities.
In four cases, the final report was submitted by the police to which protest petition was filed by the concerned complainants and pursuant to directions issued by the competent courts, further investigation is still to be conducted.
In view of the completion of the investigation, the Union government has sought permission to assign additional work to the officers, Bhati stated.
A Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India, Justice UU Lalit and Justice Bela M Trivedi allowed both the applications. However, with respect to the application seeking assignment of additional duties, a caveat was introduced by the bench.
"Concerned officials shall continue to be part of the SIT till a final decision on that behalf is taken by the court. It shall, of course, be open to the authorities to entrust certain additional work till that stage is arrived at by the court," stated the bench.
During the hearing, amicus curiae raised concerns regarding the closure reports. But the bench was not inclined to get into the issues at the stage where it was only deciding applications filed by the Union government.
Meanwhile, a senior advocate, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, objected to the claim that the investigation conducted by SIT was complete and argued that, perhaps, the status reports submitted by the authorities may be required to be categorically analyzed.
The SC bench noted that the assignment to the SIT to investigate was only with respect to three categories of cases, since, for the other categories, there were only mere allegations and no concrete material to proceed on.
The bench thought it fit not to decide these submissions at the present stage. It recorded in the order the issues that needed to be decided by the appropriate bench before which the matter is listed next.
"The matter shall be gone principally on two issues, namely, the status report submitted by the authorities and whether certain additional cases must also be enquired into and investigated by the authorities as projected by amicus curiae and senior advocates," stated the bench.
Senior advocates put up the matter on issues of sanction that certain matters are still pending before the Manipur HC. Following it, the SC requested the HC to dispose of the pending matters within six months.