It may appear incredible but is true. In 2016, the S.C. had decided to probe the killing of 1528 persons killed in alleged fake encounter in Manipur by the armed forces and the Manipur police.
A bench headed by Madan B. Lokur had observed that 'democracy would be in a grave danger' if armed forces were permitted to kill citizens on mere allegation or suspicion that they were enemies of the state.
Underlining that 'no absolute immunity' would be given to the armed forces personnel if any death was found to be ' unjustified', the court had held that 'use of excessive force or retaliatory force by the Manipur police or the armed forces of the union was not permissible and all such instances must be investigated. The court had rejected the contention of the government that a war-like situation existed in Manipur and an inquiry may' demoralize the armed forces and may help the insurgents.
Now, the Union Government has approached the Supreme Court to recall the order on the ground that the judgment has 'hampered the Indian Army's ability to respond to the insurgents and terrorists situations.'
The Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has filed a curative petition and wants it to be heard urgently in the name of national security.
It is shocking that in a democracy with the claim of its being under the rule of law, the government is asking the apex court to recall its order with the aim of giving a free hand to the police and security forces to kill innocent citizens in the name of national security.
There may be a situation in the areas under insurgency in which a few innocent citizens may get INADVERTENTLY killed, but for a government to approach the Supreme Court to abdicate its duty of protecting the life and personal liberty of citizens (under Art.32 ) is the ultimate in shamelessness and dispensing with the rule of law. When Indira government claimed the right to kill, detain or torture a citizen during the emergency, she, at least, had the excuse (though very lame ) of arguing that the right to life and personal liberty under Art.21 was suspended during the emergency, and consequently, courts could not come to protect rights which did not exist.
Modi government is asking the apex court to become an accomplish in killing innocent citizens in fake encounters by sanctioning it.
The audacity of the Modi government is far more dangerous than Indira Gandhi's call for a committed judiciary, as she fought the judiciary through constitutional amendments but did not invite it for an unholy co-habitation.
The fascist fang of Modi is out, and it can be overlooked only if we are seized with a collective death wish.
(prabhakar sinha, Member, PUCL)