Extra-Judicial killings cannot be overlooked

Mains Fodder Points

  • By ordering an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation into more than 80 cases of suspected extra-judicial killings in Manipur, the Supreme Court has reiterated the principle of accountability as an essential part of the rule of law. 
  • These cases involved either suspected fake encounters or the use of excessive or retaliatory force. 
  • It has taken the view that the killing of a person who was possibly innocent cannot be overlooked owing to mere lapse of time.
  • The state cannot take advantage of its own inaction and scuttle a probe by citing the delay as a reason.
  • Last year, the court had ruled that the armed forces cannot escape investigation for excesses even in places where they enjoy special powers, and that the legal protection provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, will have to yield to the principles of human rights.
  • The court’s order is yet another reminder that AFSPA has contributed to the climate of impunity in States where it is in force, especially in Manipur, and this may trigger a fresh demand for its repeal.
  • The situation under AFSPA is so hostile to the concept of human rights that in many of these cases there was no inquiry at all.
  • Justice will be served if there is successful prosecution in at least some cases.
  • Another worrying aspect in the domain of human rights is that the National Human Rights Commission has been reduced to a “toothless tiger”.
  • It is grossly understaffed despite its increasing workload, and many State governments show little respect for its guidelines and instructions.
  • The court’s directive that the Centre take note of the NHRC’s concerns and remedy the situation could not have come a day too soon.



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