Manipur encounters: Supreme Court to hear NHRC’s plea seeking release of officer from SIT on March 17


The application filed by the NHRC came up for hearing before a Bench comprising Justices N.V. Ramana, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose

The Supreme Court said on March 10 it would hear on March 17 a plea filed by the NHRC seeking release of its Senior Superintendent of Police Mahesh Bhardwaj, who has been promoted as DIG in his parent cadre, from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing alleged fake encounters in Manipur.

The application filed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) came up for hearing before a Bench comprising Justices N.V. Ramana, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose.

Senior advocate Maneka Guruswamy, who is assisting the top court as an amicus curiae in the matter, told the Bench that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also filed two pleas for release of its officers from the SIT but none of these applications have been served upon her.

Ms. Guruswamy sought time to file a reply on applications filed by the NHRC and the CBI.

The Bench asked the Centre to serve the copy of the applications to the amicus as well as other parties in the case and listed the matter for hearing on March 17.

The court, which is hearing a plea seeking a probe into 1,528 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur, on July 14, 2017, constituted an SIT and ordered lodging of FIRs and probe into many of these cases.

In July 2018, two officers of the NHRC, including Mr. Bhardwaj, were included as members of the SIT.

On July 5, 2018, the apex court had directed the CBI to file final reports in four cases of alleged extra-judicial killings and fake encounters by the Army, Assam Rifles and police in Manipur by July 27, 2018, saying violation of human rights cannot be tolerated.

The court had earlier provided a four-point blueprint to the SIT and asked it to expedite investigation in these cases, which had come under the scanner of the NHRC, the Gauhati High Court as well as some commissions of inquiry.

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