New Delhi: The Centre on Friday filed a plea in the Supreme Court to seek quashing of an FIR in which Major Aditya Kumar was named by Jammu and Kashmir Police in civilian killings.
On March 5, the apex court had restrained the police from carrying out any investigation in pursuance to the FIR following the death of three civilians as the Army dispersed a stone-pelting mob in Shopian district.
The apex court direction had come on a plea by Lt Col Karamveer Singh — a serving officer and father of Major Aditya Kumar — seeking the quashing of the FIR.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal had told the court that mere filing of the complaint against an Army personnel serving in the disturbed area without the prior sanction of the central government was barred under Section 7 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
He had cited top court judgments of 2006 and 2014 in support of his contention that without the Centre’s sanction, even a complaint against a serving Army officer operating in disturbed area was prohibited under the law.
The state government had opposed the plea, saying that the registration of the FIR and even filing of charge sheet did not amount to taking cognisance of the offence and thus no prior permission of the Centre was required.
The government had said Major Kumar has not even been named as an accused in the FIR.
The petitioner-father contended that the registration of the FIR and the consequent proceedings would adversely impact the morale of the armed forces fighting militancy in trouble-torn state.
Major Kumar and other soldiers of 10 Garhwal Rifles have been accused of opening fire on the stone-pelting mob that attacked an Army convoy near Ganowpora village on January 27. The firing resulted in the death of three persons.
“The manner in which the lodging of the FIR has been portrayed and projected by the political leadership and administrative higher-ups of the state, it reflects the extremely hostile atmosphere in the state,” reads the petition filed by the Major’s father.
It said that Major Kumar was wrongly and arbitrarily named as the incident relates to an Army convoy on bona fide military duty in an area under the AFSPA which was isolated by an “unruly and deranged” stone-pelting mob.
He said the intention of Major Kumar was to save Army personnel and property, and the fire was inflicted only to impair and provide a safe escape.
“The unruly mob was requested to disperse and not to obstruct military persons in the performance of their duties and not to damage government property…. The unruly behaviour of the unlawful assembly reached its peak when they got hold of a Junior Commissioned Officer and was in the process of lynching him to death.
“It was at this moment that warning shots were fired… which as per the said terms of engagement is the last resort to be taken,” the father had said in the plea.