SC likely to hear petition seeking probe by SIT into killing of three Rajouri labourers in Shopian

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The Supreme Court is likely to hear today a Public interest litigation seeking probe by a Special Investigation Team into the killing of three persons who were labeled as “unknown militants” after an “encounter” in a Shopian village in July this year, a claim refuted by the victim families of Rajouri who after seeing pictures of the slain on social media identified them as their “kin” who had gone to Shopian for labour.

The Petition is listed before a bench of Justices Sanjay Krishan Kaul, Anirudh Bose and Krishna Murari today and is likely to come up for consideration before noon,” advocate Salih Pirzada, the petitioner’s counsel said.

The PIL filed by Jammu & Kashmir Reconciliation Front through its Chairman Dr Sandeep Mawa who is a resident member of minority Kashmiri Pandit community is seeking probe into the killing of trio Abrar Ahmad, Imtiyaz Ahmad and Abrar Ahmad who were killed as “suspected militants” on July 18 at Mirzapur in Shopian.

“This PIL has been filed to bring forth the Human Right violations manipulated under the emblem of ‘Encounter’ where three labourers namely Ibrar Ahmad (16), Muhammed Ibrar (21) and Imtiaz Ahmad (26) have been killed on 18.07.2020 at Shopian district of J&K,” reads the petition.

The PIL is seeking direction for an investigation by a SIT consisting of members other than from J&K Police to be monitored by the Supreme Court in keeping with its law laid down in case titled ExtraJudicial Execution Victims Families Association v Union of India (2017) and People’s Union for Civil Liberties v State of Maharashtra (2014).

The PIL also seeks to quash the investigation imitated by J&K Police in the case it has registered with regard to the “encounter” for being in contravention to the law laid down by the Supreme Court in a case titled ExtraJudicial Execution Victims Families Association v/s Union of India.

The petition is also seeking direction to the senior superintendent of Police to register an FIR and investigate the matter as per the guidelines formulated under Article 141 in People’s Union for Civil Liberties v State of Maharashtra (2014).

The petition underlines that “upon promulgation of J&K Reorganization Act, 2019 the J&K State Human Rights Commission ceased to exist and presently there is no forum or body to look into the matters related to Human Right Violations in J&K. “Moreover there is no designated court to take cognizance of complaints related to Human Rights Violations as mandated under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (Section 31) made applicable to the U T of J&K”, it said.

While the PIL is seeking direction to Union Ministry of Home Affairs to constitute a High Powered Committee to analyze the aspect of criminalizing custodial killings and Fake encounters by way of a special legislation, it also seeks direction to the Ministry to Constitute the State Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Courts in terms of Section 21 and 31 respectively in the territory of J&K.

The petition also seeks direction to the Ministry to pay a compensation of Rs one Crore to each family of the victims.

The petitioner submits that the law down by the apex court on the subject of extrajudicial killings and fake encounters in the form of guidelines, even declared as law under Article 141 do not find its way to implementation.

These guidelines, the petitioner said, are instead violated at will as in the instant case, constraining him to seek indulgence of the top Court.

The petitioner submitted that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has customarily ignored the mandate of law judicially evolved by the Supreme Court to contain, prevent, investigate or penalize the custodial killings and fake encounters “which is predominant in the instant case”.

The petitioner submitted that the cardinal principle of criminal jurisprudence is that the “one alleged of abuse of powers cannot be permitted to investigate his own cause”.

“The situation becomes vulnerable when the Shopian Police and Army primarily involved in the fake encounter are simultaneously investigating their own cause,” he pleaded.

This action of respondents, the petitioner said, is contrary to the guidelines issued by this Court under Article 141 in People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. State of Maharashtra (2014).