The Supreme Court on Friday said all incidents involving suspected use of excessive and retaliatory force by the Army or police in Manipur must be investigated..A Bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and UU Lalit also allowed the Army to conduct its own enquiries into the accusations of fake encounters in Manipur till the court examines these cases and orders an independent enquiry..The court will take a final decision once a collated report on 62 cases is submitted to the court by the Amicus Curiae..Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appeared for Extra Judicial Execution Victims & Families Association, while Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi appeared for the Centre. Advocate Menaka Guruswamy assisted the court as Amicus Curiae..The Dramatis Personae, and a brief history.The case was filed in the Supreme Court by Extra Judicial Execution Victims Families Association, a registered trust having as its members as the wives and mothers of persons whom they claim have been extra-judicially executed by the Manipur Police and the security forces (mainly the Assam Rifles and the Army). The petitioner has alleged 1,528 extra-judicial killings by the Army and other security forces during 2010-12 in Manipur..A compilation in the form of a Memorandum was presented to the United Nations Special Rapporteur, which contained 1528 alleged extra-judicial executions carried out by the police and security forces in Manipur. Out of these 1528, 62 have been detailed elaborately, and it is on these 62 cases that a detailed report needs to be submitted by the Amicus Curae..The petitioner also mentioned that the members of Armed forces had escaped punishment because they operated under the AFSPA, which grants special powers to arrest, conduct searches and seizures and also provides immunity from prosecution..Dr. Suresh Singh also appeared in the capacity of a Public Interest Litigant, and requested for a direction that the areas in Manipur declared as a “disturbed area” in terms of Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (for short ‘the AFSPA’) be withdrawn and the notification issued be quashed..In 2013, a committee appointed by the Supreme Court to probe six cases of alleged extra- judicial killings in Manipur informed the court that all the encounters were fake..The committee, comprising retired judge Santosh Hegde, former chief election commissioner JM Lyngdoh and former Karnataka police chief AK Singh, held that all the seven victims, including a 12-year- old boy, did not have any criminal background and had not been named in any insurgency-related case..The “war-like” situation in Manipur.The Court acknowledged that the prevailing situation in Manipur, is “a public order situation equivalent to an internal disturbance” and not “a war-like situation”, as alleged by the Attorney General, which was the chief ground for opposing a detailed enquiry into the cases of extra-judicial killings..It took note of the suffering and the misery that the people in Manipur were currently facing on account of a public law and order deficit. It, therefore, directed all four stakeholders concerned, namely, the civil society in Manipur, the insurgents, the State of Manipur and the Government of India, to work out a viable solution to the issue..Excessive force in AFSPA areas not permissible.The Court held that the use of excessive force or retaliatory force by the Manipur Police or the Armed Forces of the Union is not permissible even under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958..“It must be held, and there can be no doubt about it, that in view of the consistent opinion expressed by this Court, that an allegation or complaint of absence of a reasonable connection between an official act and use of excessive force or retaliatory force will not be countenanced and an allegation of this nature would always require to be met regardless of whether the State is concerned with a dreaded criminal or a militant, terrorist or insurgent. It must also be held that to provide assurance to the people, such an allegation must be thoroughly enquired into. This is the requirement of a democracy and the requirement of preservation of the rule of law and the preservation of individual liberties.”.It also held that any allegations of excessive force resulting in the death of any person by the Manipur Police or the armed forces in Manipur must be thoroughly enquired into. While it did not delve into the question of appointing an agency for that particular purpose, it said that a decision on the same would be taken after the collated report was submitted by the Amicus Curiae..Members of Armed forces can be tried by criminal courts.Regarding whether members of Armed forces can be tried by regular criminal courts, the court placed reliance on its earlier judgments and held the following:.“The law is therefore very clear that if an offence is committed even by Army personnel, there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial by the criminal court constituted under the Cr.P.C. …...The result of the interplay between Section 4 and Section 5 of the Cr.P.C. and Sections 125 and 126 of the Army Act makes it quite clear that the decision to try a person who has committed an offence punishable under the Army Act and who is subject to the provisions of the Army Act does not always or necessarily lie only with the Army – the criminal court under the Cr.P.C. could also try the alleged offender in certain circumstances in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Cr.P.C.”.Direction to Amicus.The Court has now directed the Amicus Curiae to prepare a tabular statement indicating the status of inquiry into 62 cases documented by the petitioner..“Of the 62 cases that the petitioners have documented, their representative and the learned Amicus will prepare a simple tabular statement indicating whether in each case a judicial enquiry or an inquiry by the NHRC or an inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 has been held and the result of the inquiry and whether any First Information Report or complaint or petition has been filed by the next of kin of the deceased.”.The Court also took notice of NHRC’s claim that it was a “toothless tiger” and agreed to examine the issue in order to accord more authority to NHRC. The case will now be heard after 4 weeks..Read the full text of the judgment below.