SC verdict today on Pathribal

NEW DELHI, Apr 30:
The Supreme Court will pronounce on Tuesday its verdict on whether Army personnel allegedly involved in the killing of 7 persons in an alleged staged shootout at Pathribal in J&K 12 years ago could be prosecuted without prior sanction from the Government.
A bench of justices B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar will pronounce the verdict at 10.30 am which was reserved by it on April 23.
While concluding their arguments, Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval and senior counsel Ashok Bhan, appearing for CBI, had reiterated that Army personnel in the alleged fake encounter have no immunity from prosecution.
CBI earlier had told the special bench of justices B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar that it was a case of “cold-blooded murder and the accused officials deserve to be meted out exemplary punishment.”
CBI had contended no prior sanction was required for prosecuting the Army officials and the need to ensure “public confidence in the rule of law and dispensation of justice” warranted their prosecution.
“Our investigations have revealed it was a fake encounter and cold-blooded murders. If public confidence in the rule of law and dispensation of justices is to be sustained, the accused officers deserve to be meted out exemplary punishment,” Bhan had told the bench.
Bhan’s submission was contrary to the stand taken by Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra, who, appearing for the Army officers, said prior sanction was mandatory for prosecuting the officials who otherwise are innocent.
The Defence Ministry and CBI have differed on the immunity enjoyed by the Army under the controversial AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) and other regular laws in encounter killings.
CBI had maintained the expression used in Section 6 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives immunity to Army personnel for encounters killings, is not available to the accused officers in the present case.
Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra, on behalf of the Centre, had denied the allegations of fake encounter and argued they enjoyed protection in discharge of their official functions.
CBI had earlier moved an application for vacating the stay granted by the apex court on the trial relating to the killings of 7 persons by the Army allegedly in retaliation to the killing of 36 civilians by militants at Chattisingpora in 2000.
According to CBI, though the right to immunity under 197 CrPC was available to the officers, in the present case it has not been sought by the accused but by senior Defence Ministry officers, which was contrary to the law. (PTI)