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‘No case made out’: SC junks plea for probe in tribal killing, slaps Rs 5 lakh fine

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Thursday junked a plea by activist Himanshu Kumar demanding a CBI probe against the Chhattisgarh Police and central security forces for an alleged massacre of tribals in two separate places in Dantewada in 2009 and also imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on for misusing the judicial process.

It pointed at glaring loopholes in the case put by petitioners seeking an independent probe into the killings.A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and J.B. Pardiwala said: “In the overall view of the matter, we have reached to the conclusion that no case, worth the name, has been made out by the writ petitioners for any further investigation much less through an independent agency to be appointed by this court.

“It imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on Kumar and directed that it should be deposited within 4 weeks with the Supreme Court legal services committee, failing which recovery steps will be taken against him. Kumar had accused security forces of extra-judicial killings and demanded compensation for families of those killed.

A plea was filed by Kumar and 12 others, who were the family members of the deceased tribals, seeking an independent probe into the killings.The bench noted that the prime concern and the endeavour of the court of law should be to secure justice on the basis of true facts which ought to be unearthed through a committed, resolved, and a competent investigating agency.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioners, vehemently submitted that the alleged brutal incidents of killing of the tribals should be investigated through the CBI.

He said the family members of the petitioners were killed in cold-blood by the Chhattisgarh Police, and Special Police Officers (SPOs) appointed by the Chhattisgarh government in collusion with the activists of the Salwa Judum (group of vigilantes sponsored by the state government) and the central paramilitary forces consisting of the CRPF and its CoBRA Battalion, in two separate attacks on September 17, 2009 and October 1, 2009, respectively.

Gonsalves contended that Chhattisgarh government and the Chhattisgarh Police have not done anything so far despite the fact that the eye-witnesses have identified the accused persons in some of the cases. He said not a single eye-witness has been called so far for the purpose of recording his statement.

The bench said it was really taken by surprise that the senior counsel appearing for the petitioners was absolutely oblivious of the fact that all the FIRs were investigated by the investigating agencies concerned and, at the end of the investigation, charge sheets came to be filed in different courts of Chhattisgarh for the offences like murder, dacoity, etc.

“What we are trying to convey is that the statements of the petitioners nos.2 to 13 recorded before the Judicial Officer demolishes the entire case put up by the petitioner no.1, (Kumar) who is running an NGO,” it said.

The bench, in its 94-page verdict, added: “We are of the view, having regard to the materials on record, that no case, worth the name for further investigation or re-investigation, could also be said to have been made out.

The filing of the charge sheets at the conclusion of the investigation into the various FIRs referred to above would indicate that the alleged massacre was at the end of the Naxalites (Maoists).

“It noted that from the materials on record that all those persons who have been arraigned as accused and against whom charge sheets have been filed are absconding and it is now for the trial court concerned to take appropriate steps in this regard.

“Unfortunately, neither the senior counsel appearing for the writ petitioners nor any of the writ petitioners, more particularly, the writ petitioner no.1, the protagonist behind the filing of the present writ petition, running an NGO, has any idea about the charge sheets and the materials collected in the course of the investigation.

“As the petitioner’s counsel also raised an issue that specific questions were not put to the petitioners, who were family members of the deceased, the bench said it cannot accept such submission after a period of almost 12 years, as the statements were recorded by the judicial officer in 2010.

“Not once in the last 12 years has any grievance been made either orally or in writing before this court as regards the mode and manner of recording of the statements. It is for the first time in 12 years that such a grievance has been made,” it said.

In an interim application, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, urged the court to initiate appropriate proceedings against the writ petitioners for the offence of perjury punishable under Section 193 of the IPC.

The Centre also sought a nod for an investigation by a central agency against entities trying to use the constitutional courts to shield Maoists.The top court permitted a probe against individuals and organisations allegedly involved in securing legal protection to the left-wing extremists through judicial processes, and said it leaves it to Chhattisgarh to take apt steps in accordance with law in connection with assertions in the application by the Centre.

“Thus, we leave it to the State of Chhattisgarh/CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to take appropriate steps in accordance with law as discussed above in reference to the assertions made in the interim application.

We clarify that it shall not be limited only to the offence under Section 211 of the IPC. A case of criminal conspiracy or any other offence under the IPC may also surface,” said the top court.Advocate Sumeer Sodhi represented the Chhattisgarh government in the top court.

The state government had opposed the plea in the top court saying all the averments made in the memorandum of the writ petition are ex facie false and fabricated, and an attempt has been made to mislead the court.



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