Major Aditya an army officer, not ordinary criminal: SC

NEW DELHI: In a dramatic turn of events, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday told the Supreme Court that Major Aditya Kumar was not named in FIR in connection with the Shopian firing in which three civilians were killed on January 27. “He is an army officer and not an ordinary criminal,” the court said.

Major Aditya an army officer, not ordinary criminal: SC

Ex-servicemen stand in support of Major Aditya Kumar at Supreme Court. File photo

monicakchauhan@gmail.com

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5

In a dramatic turn of events, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday told the Supreme Court that Major Aditya Kumar was not named in FIR in connection with the Shopian firing in which three civilians were killed on January 27.

During hearing of a petition filed by Major Kumar’s father, Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh seeking quashing of the FIR, senior counsel Shekhar Naphade told a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra that the FIR does not mention the name of the officer as an accused and that the column meant for mentioning the names of ‘accused’ was empty.

Naphade’s statement came after the CJI asked what the allegation was in the FIR against Major Kumar.

“He is an army officer and not an ordinary criminal,” the bench, also comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, said.

The bench, which had on February 12 stayed criminal proceedings against Major Kumar, fixed April 24 to finally dispose of the matter. It said the investigation shall remain stayed till the next date of hearing.

On behalf of the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal supported the petitioner and criticised the state of Jammu and Kashmir for registering a criminal case against a serving Army officer without sanction from the Central government.

Naphade opposed the stay of investigation, saying, “Nobody has the licence to kill… Let the probe continue. The court has already protected the officer by saying that no coercive steps shall be taken against the officer.”

“Everyday soldiers are being killed. Mobs gather outside police stations to pelt stones. Do they have a licence,” the Attorney General countered. He quoted Section 7 of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1990, according to which no prosecution can be launched against a serving army officer without prior sanction from the Central government.

However, Naphade said the Centre’s permission was not required to file an FIR and it would be required only at the time of filing of the chargesheet.

Besides quashing of the FIR, petitioner Lt Colonel Karamveer Singh has sought guidelines to protect soldiers’ rights and adequate compensation for them. 

Three civilians were killed on January 27 when Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village in Shopian, prompting the chief minister to order an inquiry into the incident. 

The FIR was registered against the personnel of 10, Garhwal unit of the Army, including Major Kumar, under the Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code. 

The Army had on February 1 presented its version of events contradicting the police FIR. It reiterated that soldiers opened fire on protesters in “self-defence” to prevent imminent lynching of an officer, snatching of weapons by villagers and burning of the Army vehicles.

The petitioner contended that FIR had been illegally filed against Major Aditya Kumar and that his son had been "wrongly and arbitrarily" named in the FIR as the February 27 incident related to an Army convoy on bona fide military duty in an area under the AFSPA, which was isolated by an "unruly and deranged" mob pelting stones causing damage to military vehicles. 

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