Manipur, July 15: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered a CBI probe by a special investigating team (SIT) into the 1,528 alleged fake encounter deaths in Manipur in last 10 years and described the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as a “toothless tiger” for its failure in the state. As per the Supreme Court, NHRC failed to check on the alleged violation of human rights in Manipur. “Undoubtedly, the protection and preservation of human rights is one of the most important aspects of the rule of law,” it said.

“NHRC is a toothless tiger. We painstakingly investigate human rights violation cases, sometimes in remote areas, with our limited resources. The evidence collected is put to forensic judicial adjudication by its chairman and members, who are former judges. But at the end, when NHRC arrives at a finding, it can only recommend remedial measures or direct the state concerned to pay compensation,” ex-CJI Dattu told TOI.

“We keep writing letters to the authorities concerned to implement our recommendations. But it is the sweet will of the authorities whether or not to implement NHRC recommendations. It is for Parliament to decide whether to confer NHRC with some kind of contempt powers to make authorities implement its recommendations,” he said.

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A bench of justices Madan B. Lokur and Uday Lalit passed the order on a writ petition which was filed by the Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM). The petition demanded investigation by a special investigation team alleging that 1,528 fake encounter deaths had happened in last decade in Manipur.

READ THE JUDGEMENT HERE:

The Supreme Court also dismissed the attempts by the Army and the state government seeking internal probes into the alleged fake encounters that took place between 2002 and 2012. The bench also asked the CBI director to nominate a group of five officers who would go through the cases and complete the investigation by December 31. The bench also took notice of the fact that in none of the 98 cases had an FIR against the police but against the deceased for alleged the violation of laws.

“Under these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for us to depend upon the Manipur police to carry out an impartial investigation more particularly when some of its own personnel are said to be involved in the fake encounters,” it said.

Directing the Indian Army to not use excessive and retaliatory force” in Manipur, the bench said, “If members of our armed forces are deployed and employed to kill citizens of our country on the mere allegation or suspicion that they are the ‘enemy’, not only the rule of law but our democracy would be in grave danger.”

“The use of excessive force or retaliatory force by the Manipur police or the armed forces of the Union is not permissible,” it said. The state was declared a disturbed area under the AFSPA.