Tightening noose around CBI’s neck
THOUGH the Supreme Court had on Friday directed the CBI director to appear before it and explain reason for the slow pace of investigation into the alleged extra-judicial killings in the state the probe agency is unlikely to come up with any firm commitment or dramatic revelations other than seek more time to carry on the investigation. Apart from the apex court doubting efficiency of the premier probe agency of the country, which is expected to some headway and fix responsibility against those trigger-happy men in uniform, speculations are rife among the general public that the CBI has been dragging its feet with the intention to shield the security personnel. By summoning the CBI director and mincing no words that it is tired with the ‘snake and ladder game’ of the agency, the apex court demonstrated in clear terms that the CBI’s inability to submit final investigation report on specified number of cases, out of over 1500 allegations of stage managed encounters in the state, is uncalled for. It was in July, 2017 that the court ordered a CBI probe by a special investigating team (SIT) into the 98 fake encounter killings in Manipur in a decade’s time. For the record, the writ petition filed by the Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur (EEVFAM) had sought investigation into a whopping 1528 suspicious encounter deaths in Manipur. Having endorsed the petition, the court asked the CBI to launch probe and file final reports in four cases involving the Army, Assam Rifles and police but the agency is yet to comply with the directive.
There were reports about the CBI formed SIT officials recreating scenes of shoot-outs that happened years back as well as recording statements of suspected security personnel. However, the CBI’s failure to meet the deadlines set by the court gives an impression to the public that it is conducting the investigation in such a shoddy manner. By ordering investigation and demanding expedition of the probe process, the Supreme Court has been making it very clear that there can be no excuse for extrajudicial killings and every genuine case has to be investigated and responsibility fixed no matter whether the victim broke the law. At every hearing conducted so far, the court has been driving home the point that security forces cannot take law into their own hands and that even the hardest criminals ought to be put on trial instead of practicing instant justice. That the apex court is keen to at-least see deliverance of justice in the few cases that it prioritised could also be comprehended from its previous decree for involvement of the National Human Rights Commission in the probe. The CBI also faced the court’s wrath when reports surfaced about FIRs registered against the deceased for alleged violations of the law and hence, role of the NHRC is considered insurmountable in averting complacency, partiality and undue interference in reaching to the depth of every registered case. Thus, consideration the lethargic pace of the probe process and alleged ambiguity it is natural that the top court summoned the CBI chief to make an explicit explanation over delaying justice.