The union government Monday told the Supreme Court that prior section was necessary for instituting legal proceedings against army personnel engaged in anti-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
It, however, sought to assure the apex court that ‘highest priority would be given to the preservation and protection of human rights’.
‘Considering the objects and reasons for which the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Power Act, 1990 was passed, it is the stand of the Union of India that the prior sanction of the central government is a pre-requisite for the institution of any legal proceedings under section 6 of the Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 and section 7 of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Power Act, 1990,’ said the government’s affidavit.
The affidavit filed by Prem Prakash, a deputy secretary in the defence ministry, said: ‘It may be clarified here that the central government or any competent authority is bound to consider grant of sanction dispassionately in its entirety.’
The affidavit was filed before a bench of Justice B.S.Chauhan and Justice Swatanter Kumar.
The army has challenged the move by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking the prosecution of its personnel who were accused of killing five innocent people in Pathribal village of Anantnag district, five days after killings of 34 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora March 25, 2000.
The army had described those killed by it in Pathribal as foreign militants.
Asking the court to permit it to ‘consider and pass an appropriate order on the question of grant of sanction or otherwise in the present case’, the government’s affidavit said that it would take a final call within stipulated four months.
It told the court that this approach would be in ‘consonance with the objectives of the AFSPA and balance of interests of both the parties concerned.’
‘Highest priority would be given to the preservation and protection of human rights and remedial measures for imposing sanctions in case of gross breach of human rights,’ the affidavit assured.
The affidavit said that this was the joint position of the defence and home ministries, adding that the ‘entire process will be monitored closely by highly responsible officers of the Central government in the matter of considering grant of sanction.’