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Extrajudicial killings: Panel wraps up hearing, report to be submitted in a week
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, March 22 2013: After cross examining dozens of affidavits submitted by the victims as well as the security forces in six different cases of extrajudicial executions in Manipur at Imphal and Delhi, the Supreme Court-appointed three-member independent inquiry commission headed by Justice Santosh Hegde concluded its hearing sessions yesterday.

The report is expected to be submitted within a week.

In September, 2012 Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families' Association, Manipur (EEVFAM) along with Human Rights Alert (HRA)submitted a list of 1528 extra-judicial executions in Manipur since 1979 praying for the constitution of an Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate.

After hearing out the arguments from the State of Manipur, Union of India and the National Human Rights Commission, the Supreme Court on 4 January 2013 constituted a high power Commission "to be fully satisfied about the truth of the allegations concerning the cases cited by the writ petitioners", with Justice N.Santosh Hegde, former Judge, Supreme Court of India as the chairman and J.M.Lyngdoh, former Chief Election Commissioner and Dr.Ajaikumar Singh, IPS.

Retd.DGP and IGP of Karnataka as members.

The Commission is mandated to make a thorough enquiry into and record a finding regarding the past antecedents and the circumstances in which seven victims namely Azad Khan, Khumbongmayum Orsonjit, Nameirakpam Gobin Meitei, Nameirakpam Nobo Meitei, Elangbam Kiranjit Singh, ChongthamUmakanta and Akoijam Priyobroto were killed.

"In light of the enquiries made by it, the Commission is also mandated to address the larger question of the role of the State Police and the security forces in Manipur.

The Commission will also make a report regarding the functioning of the State Police and security forces in the State of Manipur and in case it finds that the actions of the police and/or the security forces transgress the legal bounds the Commission shall make its recommendations for keeping the police and the security forces within the legal bounds without compromising the fight against insurgency" .

The Commission invited affidavits from the public having knowledge of the facts and circumstances relating to the killings of the persons listed.

Thereafter cross examinations of the witnesses were held at Classic Hotel Imphal from 3 to 7 March and in VigyanBhawan New Delhi from 13 to 21 March 2013 .

In the final submission to the Commission on behalf of the petitioners, various suggestions have been made.

These include Special investigation teams consisting of 25 senior investigation officers from outside the state of Manipur should be appointed to take up the investigation and prosecution of 25 serious cases where it is alleged that fake encounters have taken place, 9 district Courts should be separately established to function exclusively as Human Rights Courts in accordance with Section 30 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 with the qualification that such courts will be empowered to entertain complaints of human rights violation directly and to devise its own procedure so that these criminal proceedings are completed within a period of 6 months, that it be declared that custodial killings and other human rights atrocities when committed require no sanction for prosecution either under the CrPC or UAPA or AFSPA as the commission of a human rights atrocity has nothing to do with the performance of public duty, in all other cases, where sanction is necessary, the State should communicate its order regarding the grant of sanction within 30 days of the application for sanction; the National and State Legal Aid Services Authorities should provide competent lawyers with a fair practice at the Bar and with at least 5 years experience for all the victims of human rights atrocities and such lawyers will be paid by the State at rates not inconsistent with the normal commercial rates for legal practitioners, a system of registering FIRs through email, registered post and other convenient methods and at public places other than police stations such as public hospitals should be put in place so that aggrieved individuals can have their FIRs registered forthwith and acknowledged by the police, that in all cases, right from the reporting of the human rights atrocity, the victims and their families and concerned witnesses shall be taken under the care and protection of the a special State Unit for Victim and Witness Protection, and this unit shall be responsible to protect these persons from victimization and further harm, ensure that substantial financial assistance is provided to them, ensure that generous compensation is paid and generally ensure that the lives of the persons is restored to the same level and standard as compared to the situation prevailing prior to the atrocity.

Furthermore, to help the victims and their families reconstruct their lives, the State should extend the existing social welfare schemes to such persons by amending the schemes if necessary and also create new and specific schemes with generous benefits covering education, pension, employment, health care, housing and other social benefits.

In particular, such persons ought not to be stigmatized or discriminated against on the ground that they are the widows or relatives of "alleged" terrorists; in all cases where it is alleged by the family or friends of the deceased that a fake encounter has taken place, a district judge or a retired district judge should conduct an inquiry expeditiously to come to a prima facie conclusion as to whether a fake encounter has taken place or not; in all cases where, under the orders of the High Court, or as Commissions of Inquiries, inquiries have been done in respect of allegations of fake encounters, all such reports should be made public and copies given to the families of the victims and in cases where the findings are that the encounter was fake, criminal prosecution of the personnel concerned should immediately begin and fast tracked to finish within 6 months.


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