AFSPA back in focus after SC jab: Omar
‘Apex Court Observation On Pathribal Could Become Turning Point In Restoring Trust’
GK NEWS NETWORK
Jammu, Jan 24: Asking the Government of India to give a ‘serious look’ to the recent rap on Army by the Supreme Court, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Tuesday said the Pathribal fake encounter case has brought back Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) into focus.
“This again calls into question the entire debate of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the way in which it is implemented or the way it is used,” Omar told a Delhi-based news channel, adding, "One of the travesties of our justice system is that 12 years down the line we have not been able to deliver justice."
Omar made these remarks a day after the Supreme Court admonished the Army to not "play with the courts" and stop taking recourse to the AFSPA to stall the prosecution in the Pathribal fake encounter case.
Five people were gunned down allegedly by the Army personnel on March 25, 2000 at Pathribal in south Kashmir. They were branded as Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) militants responsible for the killing of 36 Sikhs at Chattisinghpora in the same district on the intervening night of March 19-20, 2000.
Omar also raised questions on the Army's stand in the case and said the state government was looking at the case closely. The J&K government is pushing for revocation of AFSPA from parts of the state while the Army has expressed strong objections.
The Army's stand is that its officers cannot be prosecuted for fake encounter killings in Jammu and Kashmir and Assam without prior sanction. It has also denied that the Pathribal encounter was fake.
The Supreme Court Monday expressed its displeasure that more than a decade-old case of Pathribal killings was yet to reach the trial stage due to Army's perceived defiance against prosecution of its personnel supposedly enjoying immunity under AFSPA.
“It has the possibility of becoming a turning point because given the line the Apex Court has taken and seriousness in which it is responding to what is being said, I believe that this provides us an opportunity to start rebuilding trust on the institutions where the trust has been seriously damaged”, the Chief Minister said and added that the justice system is where over the years the trust has unfortunately eroded.
“Given the way the SC is approaching the Pathribal case I believe that it provides us opportunity to rebuild trust in justice system and that is why the case like this assumes more importance,” Omar said.
“The defense that the army has taken is that they have a mechanism in place to punish the guilty without recourse to the civilian courts and that is why they denied permission to under AFSPA but if they are not going to do - as seems clear from the line they (army) have taken in the court - there are obviously more questions that are left unanswered,” he said.
Omar asked the Government of India to take a “long hard look” at the court’s observation and army’s stance “because Pathribal, Machil are the events that have cast very long shadow that won’t go away if we continue to ignore them”.
Omar said that if army was unable to put in place a system required under the Act, there was strong case in favor of the state’s proposal to revoke the law from some areas. “I am looking at it from the prism of whether in the presence of AFSPA the justice can not only be done but seems to be done and if it can not be done than again the same argument which I have been having with Ministry of Defence, particularly with army, that the time has come to revoke the Act from the peaceful areas of the state and I believe that the argument assumes much stronger proportion,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 24 Jan 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 24 Jan 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 Jan 2012 00:00:00 IST
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