New Delhi, February 12
The Supreme Court on Monday stayed all proceedings in connection with an FIR registered by the Jammu and Kashmir Police naming Major Aditya Kumar as an accused with regard to Shopian firing incident.
A three-judge Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India — which had on February 9 agreed to hear the matter — also directed that no coercive measures shall be taken against Major Aditya Kumar.
The Bench issued notice to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir Government and asked the petitioner — Major Aditya Kumar’s father Lt Colonel Karamveer Singh to serve a copy of his petition to the office of the Attorney General to enable him represent the Union of India.
The order came on a petition filed by Major Aditya Kumar’s father seeking quashing of the January 27 FIR against his son.
The petitioner was represented by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi while Attorney General appeared for the Centre.
Besides quashing of the FIR, Petitioner Lt Colonel Karamveer Singh has sought guidelines to protect soldiers’ rights and adequate compensation for them. Two civilians were killed when Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village in Shopian, prompting the chief minister to order an inquiry into the incident.
The FIR was registered against the personnel of 10, Garhwal unit of the Army, including Major Kumar, under the Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
The Army had on February 1 presented its version of events contradicting the police FIR. It reiterated that soldiers opened fire on protesters in “self-defence” to prevent imminent lynching of an officer, snatching of weapons by villagers and burning of the Army vehicles.
The petitioner contended that FIR had been illegally filed against Major Aditya Kumar.
In his petition, Lt Colonel Karamveer Singh has contended his son had been “wrongly and arbitrarily” named in the FIR as the February 27 incident related to an Army convoy on bona fide military duty in an area under the AFSPA, which was isolated by an “unruly and deranged” mob pelting stones causing damage to military vehicles.
“The petitioner is constrained to file the present writ petition for quashing of FIR, directly before this court in view of the extremely hostile situation on the ground, whereby an FIR has been registered by local police against the son of the petitioner, who is a service Army officer and was performing bona fide duties as directed by the Union of India,” read his petition. He urged the top court to lay down guidelines to protect rights of soldiers and adequate compensation so that no Army personnel is harassed by initiation of criminal proceedings for bonafide actions in exercise of their duties. He also demanded registration of FIR against those involved in terrorist activities which caused damage to government property.
The petitioner said the intention of his son — a Major in the 10 Garhwal Rifles — was to save Army personnel and property and the fire was inflicted “only to impair and provide a safe escape from a savage and violent mob engaged in terrorist activity”.
The unruly mob was asked to disperse and not to obstruct military in performing their duties and not to damage government property but when the situation reached beyond control, a warning was issued to disperse, the plea said.
As the unruly behaviour of the “unlawful assembly” reached peak and when they got hold of a Junior Commissioned Officer and were in the process of lynching him to death, warning shots were fired fire to disperse the violent mob and protect public property, the petitioner submitted.
Singh also referred to last year’s incident of a mob lynching of DSP Mohd Ayub Pandith to highlight the situation in the troubled state and the condition in which Army officials were working to control violent mobs in Kashmir.