News SC stays probe against major in Shopian firing deaths

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Supreme Court on Monday stayed the investigation by the state police into an FIR on the Shopian firing involving Major Aditya Kumar. Three civilians were killed when Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village of Shopian on January 27 this year, prompting the CM to order an inquiry

NEW DELHI: Frowning upon Jammu and Kashmir police's attempt to treat Armymen in face-offs with stone-pelters as "ordinary criminals", the Supreme Court stayed on Monday the investigation by the state police into an FIR on the Shopian firing involving Major Aditya Kumar.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, which on February 12 had stopped the state police from taking any coercive step against the major on a petition filed by his father, Lt Col Karamveer Singh, who sought quashing of the FIR, completely stalled the investigation into the Shopian FIR on Monday.

Three civilians were killed when Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village of Shopian on January 27 this year, prompting the CM to order an inquiry.

Appearing for the state, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade and additional advocate general M Shoeb Alam clarified that the FIR did not name Maj Aditya of 10 Garhwal Rifles as an accused and hence there was no need for any further orders apart from the one issued by the SC on February 12.

But the CJI-led bench was not convinced by J&K's claim. "As per the narration in the FIR, it is stated that Major Aditya Kumar was leading the convoy which resorted to firing on coming under heavy stone-pelting and arson by the mob. This means even if he is not shown as an accused, police can, at any point of time, rope him in as an accused. He is an Army officer. Do not treat him as an ordinary criminal," the bench said.

Appearing for the Centre, attorney general K K Venugopal raised preliminary objection about the legality of the FIR and said, "No prosecution, suit or any legal proceeding can be instituted against an Army man without prior permission from the Centre." The bench said the issue required detailed deliberations and posted the matter for final hearing on April 24.

Major Aditya's father, through advocate Aishwarya Bhati, had claimed that the FIR was intended to frame his son, who was not present at the incident site. He said such steps to persecute Army men would destroy the morale of armed forces operating in trying circumstances in disturbed areas. He said Army personnel had opened fire in Shopian purely in "self-protection" to disburse a stone-pelting mob and save themselves from being lynched.

According to official accounts, the major was not at the site of the incident involving a group of Army personnel who were separated from the rest of the convoy.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...hopian-firing-deaths/articleshow/63178012.cms