Manipur govt attitude disturbs apex court

Imphal, Nov. 23: The Supreme Court was today "disturbed" by the "attitude and orientation" of the affidavit filed by the Manipur government on a petition seeking investigation into alleged extra-judicial killings in the state.

"How can a state government file an affidavit stating that they (militants) are killing us and so we are killing them (militants)? Are we in a state of war? Are you trying to make the National Human Rights Commission an alibi to all the killings?" a division bench, comprising Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, asked Manipur government counsel Khwairakpam Nobin.

The Extra-judicial Execution Victim Families' Association, Manipur, and Human Rights Alert, Imphal, had initiated a petition, seeking institution of a special investigation team to probe cases of alleged fake encounter killings in the state.

On October 1, the apex court had issued a notice to the state government to file a report on the extra-judicial killings. On November 5, it rapped the Manipur government for delay in filing the report. "Do it quickly. People are dying out there. File your report by November 19," it had directed the state government.

Taking the matter seriously, the division bench had also asked the additional solicitor-general of India and the National Human Rights Commission to assist the court.

Today, in the presence of additional solicitor-general of India Rakesh Kumar Khanna, it also ordered the Centre and the National Human Rights Commission to file affidavits in response to the petition by December 2.

It has fixed December 4 as the date for the next hearing.

The division bench today also postponed the hearing on a petition filed by a former Manipur government official against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act after the Centre's counsel sought more time for submission of its reply to a notice served by the court earlier.

The petition, filed by former Manipur health director Th. Suresh on September 19, 2012, prayed for directives to the Centre and the Manipur government for withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from the state. The act is enforced in the entire state except the Imphal municipal limits.

"The act in this present form and the way it is being used is a brazen affront to right to life; it sanctions impunity and protects those who are executing the same," the petition argued.

The bench issued notices to the Centre and the Manipur government on October 19, asking them to submit their replies by November 5. As both the governments failed to meet the deadline, the court postponed the hearing till today. The next hearing has been fixed for December 4.

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