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Can army kill, rape & enjoy immunity: SC poser to govt

Jun 17, 2011

Irked by the Centre's diametrically diverse views on army and paramilitary forces' immunity from criminal prosecution in fake encounter killings, the Supreme Court today asked the government to spell out its position on the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and other laws.

"You cannot say that an army man can enter any home commit a rape and say he enjoys immunity as it has been done in discharge of official duties," the apex court remarked. The apex court made the remarks after senior counsel Ashok Bhan, appearing for the Centre, voiced divergent views on two separate encounter killings involving military personnel in J&K and Assam.

In the 2004 Chattisingpora killing in J&K , where seven youth were killed in an alleged fake encounter by Rashtriya Rifles personnel, Bhan sought prosecution of the armymen whereas in a similar alleged fake encounter by CRPF men in Assam, the counsel said they enjoyed immunity.

"How can you adopt diametrically different views?" the bench said, to which Bhan admitted it was "compulsions of his professional duties." He urged the court to de-link the two issues and deal with them separately.

However, the bench said since "the issue involved vital questions of law relating to public" , the matter would be taken up for a detailed hearing after vacation.