SC dismisses police plea on judges’ recusal
NEW DELHI, 12th Nov: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea by several Manipur Police personnel seeking recusal of judges of a bench hearing extra-judicial killings in the state. Dismissing the plea for the recusal of judges as being without merit, a bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said: “It is unfortunate that a bogey of demoralisation of the Indian Army, paramilitary forces and the State Police is being raised. We are unable to comprehend the reason for this.” “The Indian Army, paramilitary forces and the Manipur Police are made of sterner stuff and are disciplined forces, strong enough to take everything in their stride,” the court said. “To contend that some observations said to have been made by this Court have demoralised the Indian Army, the paramilitary forces and the Manipur Police is suggestive of a weakness in them.” “Be that as it may, this is really stretching the argument to the vanishing point,” said Justice Lokur speaking for the bench. The court noted that there was “no material” to support the theory of the Indian Army, paramilitary forces and the Manipur Police “being demoralised”. The court rejected the contention, including that by Attorney General KK Venugopal that some observation made by the bench in the course of the hearing of the matter on July 30 had a demoralising impact on the security forces. The matter relates to the probe by SIT constituted by the CBI Director to investigate the allegation of fake encounters by the security forces including personnel of Manipur police in the course of their anti-insurgency operations. Dismissing the contention that the observations said to have been made by the top court could impact the SIT probe, the court said, “We do not find any basis for any such apprehension” as none has questioned the fairness and integrity of the probe being undertaken by the SIT. Noting that there were no allegations of “unfairness” against the SIT, the court said, “Observations made by this court or any court for that matter cannot impact the investigations as long as they are conducted by professionals. We have no doubt that the SIT does consist of professionals who will not be swayed by any observations made by this Court during the continuing mandamus process.”
Holding that the continuing mandamus must go on and the independence and integrity of the SIT and the judges dealing with the final reports/charge-sheets must be maintained, the apex court said that “there is no reason for the applicants/petitioners to entertain any doubt that the SIT or the judiciary would be influenced by the observations said to have been made by this court.”
However, to remove any vestige of doubt, the court said, “We make it absolutely clear that any observations made or said to have been made on 30th July, 2018 during the implementation of the orders of this Court through a continuing mandamus are not intended to and should not in any manner be construed as compromising the independence, integrity and fairness of the SIT and the concerned judges”.
“Institutional integrity of the CBI and the judiciary is positively required to be maintained,” the top court said.