SC stops proceedings against Major Aditya in Shopian firing case

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

India's Supreme Court Monday stayed all criminal proceedings against a senior Army officer, who was last month arrested by the police for the deaths of three civilians in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud was hearing advocate Aishwarya Bhati's submission on Major Aditya Kumar's father's plea. "The state government has also been asked to issue a clarification within the given time period". Major Aditya is the prime accused in the case.

Thus, the soldiers ought to face Court Martial as per the Army Act, as opposed to being put through the regular criminal procedure.

Kumar had been booked under charge of murder as two people lost their lives on the spot and a third later succumbed to the injuries.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had earlier told the legislative assembly that her government would take the FIR to its logical conclusion.

Lt Col Singh, a Kargil war veteran, said an FIR against serving Army personnel had a "numbing effect" on the morale of soldiers operating against all odds in "inhospitable terrain" to "uphold the dignity of the Indian flag".

"The manner in which the lodging of the FIR has been portrayed and projected by the political leadership and administrative higher-ups of the state, reflects the extremely hostile atmosphere in the state", the petition read. While the police rarely file FIRs against the armed forces, it is even more rare for them to carry out any proper or fair investigations resulting in the filing of a chargesheet.

Attorney General, K K Venugopal has also been asked to help the court to clear the stand of the center on the issue of FIR being issues against the soldiers or army men in relation to the operations. t Major Aditya's name had been mentioned in the FIR, because three people were killed in firing at protesters in Shopian on January 27.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission ordered the Union Defence Secretary to submit a "factual report" from the Union Ministry of Defence, within four weeks, to know the situation and steps taken by the Centre.

Singh, in his petition, said his son was "wrongly and arbitrarily" named in the FIR as the incident related to an army convoy that was on bonafide military duty in an area under the AFSPA and was isolated by an "unruly and deranged" mob pelting stones, causing damage to military vehicles.