The Supreme Court has expressed its displeasure that the Ministry of Defence has “not even bothered” to respond to the letters addressed to it by the CBI’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) that is probing the alleged extra-judicial killings and fake encounters by the Army, Assam Rifles and police in Manipur.
A bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit asked the SIT to conclude by June 30 its investigations in the cases related to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), judicial inquiries and those on which the Gauhati High court had given its findings.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, appearing for the CBI, told the bench that he would take up the matter with the Ministry of Defence to ensure necessary cooperation.
“We have also seen from status report no. five (filed by the SIT) that letters have been addressed by the SIT to the Ministry of Defence in some cases as far back as in February, 2018 but the Ministry of Defence has not even bothered to respond to those letters,” the bench noted in its order.
“The ASG says he will take it up with the Ministry of Defence and ensure that necessary cooperation is extended and letters will be responded with promptitude. We expect the Ministry of Defence to fully cooperate with the SIT,” the court said and listed the matter for hearing on July 2.
Singh told the court that the SIT would give a list of documents to the chief secretary and director general of police (DGP) of Manipur to ensure that all the materials were made available to the probe team or at least, an explanation on which documents were not available and why was given.
“We would require this to be done in a time-bound manner,” the bench observed, while noting that in the status report filed by the SIT, there were several entries concerning non-supply of documents by the police and other agencies.
The apex court directed the in-charge of the SIT, Sharad Aggarwal, to furnish the list within a week and said it expected that the chief secretary and DGP of the north-eastern state would respond to it “positively within three weeks”.
“On the basis of the material on record i.e. the report of the CFSL (Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory) and documents and statements of witnesses, we expect the SIT to conclude the investigations by June 30, 2018 in respect of cases pertaining to Table II (judicial inquiry and high court cases) and III (NHRC) and file the final report under section 173, CrPC,” the court said.
As many as 31 FIRs have been lodged by the SIT under the category of cases in Tables II and III.
During the hearing, the CFSL director assured the court that the reconstruction of the crime scene would be done expeditiously and he would ensure that the tasks pending with the department were completed at the earliest.
The apex court had earlier directed the SIT to expedite its probe into the alleged fake encounters, which had come under the scanner of the NHRC, the Gauhati High Court and some commissions of inquiry.
The court had, on February 12, expressed its displeasure over the progress of the SIT probe in these cases and observed that something was “terribly wrong”.
The court, which is hearing a PIL seeking a probe into as many as 1,528 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur, had on July 14 last year set up the SIT and ordered registration of FIRs and a probe into the alleged extra-judicial killings in the north-eastern state.