No action against major, orders SC
The Supreme Court on Monday protected Army Major Aditya Kumar from any coercive action in the FIR lodged against him and other personnel of 10, Garhwal Rifles for allegedly causing death of two stone pelters who were part of a mob that attacked Army convoy at Shopian in Jammu & Kashmir on January 27.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra directed a copy of the petition filed by the Major’s father, Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh, to be supplied to Attorney General KK Venugopal and the standing counsel of Jammu & Kashmir to know the stand of the Centre and the State Government on this issue. The petition will come up for hearing after two weeks.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Lt Col Singh, told the court that the case presented in the petition was unprecedented and required urgent consideration as never before had an Army officer been booked for performing his duty. Assisted by advocate Aishwarya Bhati, Rohatgi demanded that the FIR required to be stayed as it affected the morale of the Army officers who are performing in such tough conditions in J&K. Another
petition filed by a lawyer demanded an independent enquiry into the killing.
In an an interim measure, the Bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, directed the State Government “not to take any coercive” steps against the Army officials.
The order has come as a big relief for the Army personnel who were shocked by the FIR lodged against Army Major Kumar and his men who came under attack from a mob of stone pelters in Shopian. Although, several warnings were issued as part of the protocol to dispel the crowd, the mob did not relent and took captive a junior commissioned officer of the Army. When he was about to be lynched, the Army opened fire at the mob leading to the death of two civilians.
The petition filed by the Major’s father pointed out that the area where the incident took place was governed by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that gives immunity to Army personnel for acts performed in the official course of duty. Lt Col Singh stated in the petition that his son was “wrongly and arbitrarily” named in the FIR.
He also submitted that the firing was not done as per official orders after the Army convoy was isolated by an “unruly and deranged” mob.
The petition claimed that the Major’s intention was to save the Army personnel and property from the mob and the firing was inflicted “to impair and provide a safe escape from a savage and violent mob engaged in a terrorist activity”.
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