Updated 27 Jul 2022, 1:30 pm
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice MV Muralidaran directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate a fake encounter that happened in the year 2004.
The HC directed the state police to handover all the records to the CBI so that the CBI should commence investigation upon receipt of the records pertaining (to FIR No. 9(3)2004 registered at Patsoi Police Station). The court also asked the investigation agency to complete the investigation within six months from the date of receipt of the records.
“All measures shall be taken by the CBI to ascertain the whereabouts of the persons concerned and the Union of India, though not a party, is directed to extend full cooperation to the CBI”, the HC stated.
The victim has been identified as one Khundrakpam Ajitkumar Singh @ Naoba Singh, 20, of Karong Mamang Leikai, Langjing, Imphal West. He was killed on the intervening night of March 14 and 15 of 2004.
The HC directive came in response to a petition filed by the deceased father Khumanthem Nagor that no action has been taken to arrest those persons involved in the killing of his son.
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In the year 2008, the deceased father filed a petition before the Imphal Bench of the Gauhati High Court seeking compensation for the wrongful death of his son at the hands of the personnel of 19th Rajput Rifles (Bikaner), stationed at Leimakhong.
The Imphal Gauhati High Court on January 13, 2009 directed an enquiry to be made by the District Judge, Manipur East, to ascertain the circumstances of the petitioner’s son’s death. Upon completion of the enquiry, on June 28, 2012 submitted by the District Judge, Manipur East stated that no uncertain terms that the petitioner’s son was picked up from the residence on the fateful night by the personnel of 19th Rajput Rifles and was killed by them on the fateful night along Khurkhul-Sekmai Road, while in custody.
The District Judge also found that there was no exchange of fire or an ‘encounter’ with the personnel of 19th Rajput Rifles, as claimed by them (security personnel).
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After establishment of the HC of Manipur in 2013, the same petition was again moved to this court. Based on June 28, 2012 report this court held that the personnel of 19th Rajput Rifles (Bikaner) were responsible for the death of deceased and that his fundamental right to life, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, had been violated as he died, while in their custody, without due process of law. The Union of India was accordingly directed to pay a sum of Rs 5,00,000/- to the deceased father for the wrongful death of his son.
The District Judge, Manipur East in its report also named three personnel of 19th Rajput Rifles namely Dalchand, Nabab Singh Bundela and Sunil Singh led by Major AK Singh responsible for the killing. Subsequently, the Union of India as per the HC’s directive paid a compensation of Rs 5,63,750 along with interest in 2019. However, the court noted that no action was taken against those responsible for the killing.
“Despite the same, it appears that no action was taken against any of those involved in this dastardly act. It is in these circumstances that the father of the deceased now seeks a direction to the state authorities to hand over the investigation of the case to the CBI with a further direction to the CBI to do the needful and bring the wrongdoers to book, the HC noted.
It also noted that the state government-initiated steps to bring in the CBI to investigate the case in 20004. But the CBI declined as the case was local in nature, having no interstate or international ramifications, warranting a CBI investigation.
The state authorities sent to the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 57 Mountain Division, Leimakhong, Manipur, requesting for details of the present posting of Major AK Singh of 19th Rajput Rifles, Leimakhong, and the other personnel who were involved in the incident in the year 2004.
However, it appears that there was no response thereto and the Superintendent of Police stated that the investigation could not be brought to a conclusion and the case was kept pending for want of examination of Major AK Singh and the other personnel of 19th Rajput Rifles, the court further noted.
After analysing the documents and materials including relevant cases of the SC, the High Court of Manipur stated that it is irrefutable fact that the central government has mutely accepted the findings of the court with regard to the deceased being done to death wrongfully by its armed forces and having already paid the compensation, therefore, as directed by the court, it is too late in the day for the central government or its armed forces to attempt a denial or seek to protect those who are guilty of the barbaric offence.
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“In a democratic society governed by the rule of law, there can be nothing more despicable than ‘uniformed armed personnel’ resorting to brutal extra-judicial killings to assert their might and power. In most such cases, the wrongdoers go scot-free, be it for one reason or the other”, stated the HC.
However, in the case on hand, acceptance by the central government of the findings rendered by the court, holding that the deceased was killed in a fake encounter by the personnel of 19th Rajput Rifles, mandates that the wrongdoers, four of whom are already known, be brought to book by proper investigation into their criminal acts, stated the HC.
CBI refusal at the relevant point of time has led to an unnecessary delay of 18 long years since that ill-fated young man of just 20 years was killed brutally. As the CBI has none to blame but itself for the delay, it is incumbent upon it to use all the resources available to it and undertake investigation forthwith by ascertaining the whereabouts of all the personnel of 19th Rajput Rifles, who were involved in the incident, and take appropriate action against them in accordance with law, directed the HC.
First published:27 Jul 2022, 3:52 am
Manipur High CourtCBI2004 fake encounter case