Centre to wait for SC verdict
CCS, MHA Discuss Issue
AFSPA REVOCATION ROW
New Delhi, Oct 27: The Centre is unlikely to take a view on withdrawal of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some selected areas of Jammu and Kashmir before a final verdict by the Supreme Court in a relevant case pending before it for final hearing. A Division Bench of the Apex Court is likely to decide on the matter sometime next week.
This is despite the fact that Home Minister P Chidambaram held a high level meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue in the face of a controversy generated by the statement of senior National Conference leader Dr Mustafa Kamal alleging that the series of grenade attacks that rocked the Valley during the past few days were orchestrated by the Army to thwart Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s move to remove AFSPA.
The Home Ministry sources pointed out that the meeting convened by Chidambaram was also attended by Home Secretary R K Singh, just back from Kashmir, Joint Secretary (Incharge) Kashmir, K Skandan, Special Secretary (internal security) U K Bansal, officials of Kashmir Division and representatives of intelligence agencies. An added significance of this meeting was the presence of the internal security wing officials who normally do not attend the routine J&K related meetings. Ostensibly, it was done by Chidambaram to get inputs about the design behind the grenade attacks.
Later, in the evening the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) also met under Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and was learnt to have discussed, among other things, the AFSPA related developments. Both Defence Minister AK Antony and Chidambaram attended the meeting.
The Apex Court is slated to give its view on a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by the Army seeking immunity for its officers from prosecution in an alleged fake encounter case that took place in Pathribal area of district Anantnag in 2000. Six civilians, claimed to be foreign militants, were killed in the encounter. The civilians were shot five days after the killing of 35 Sikhs in Chattisinghpura village in Anantnag district on eve of the visit of then-US President Bill Clinton on March 2000.
The CBI has pleaded before the Court to vacate stay on the trial being conducted by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar, after the investigating agency had found prima facie case against the Army officers including Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lt Col Brajendra Pratap Singh, Major Sourabh Sharma, Major Amit Saxena, Sudedar Idrees Khan and others.
Significantly, the senior CBI counsel Ashok Bhan had told the court during the last hearing that a prima facie case existed against half a dozen Army officers in this case. In its plea, the Army had sought immunity for these officers under Sections 6 and 7 of AFSPA which had already been rejected by lower courts and J&K High Court. The Apex Court had admitted the Army’s SLP last year.
“The Division Bench is likely to take up this case for final hearing most probably after concluding the case related to Delhi Police action against Baba Ramdev and his supporters at Ramlila Grounds recently,” Bhan said.
It is being felt in the Government circles that the Apex Court’s interpretation of the AFSPA will help the UPA dispensation in taking a holistic view on the issue particularly in view of serious differences of perception between the Home and the Defence Ministries.
Last year, at the behest of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Home Ministry had circulated a draft of amendments to the controversial law to the members of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Countering the Home Ministry proposal, the Defence Ministry circulated its own draft note opposing any changes.
The mood in the Army circles was also reflected by the Army Chief Gen V K Singh terse dismissal of Mustafa Kamaal’s statement.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 27 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 28 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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