SC stays criminal trial of Army personnel in fake encounters

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New Delhi, Sep 13 (UNI) The Supreme Court today stayed till further orders the criminal trial against five Army personnel facing allegations of murdering five alleged militants in a fake encounter in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir.

A bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and P P Naolekar also issued notices to the CBI and the state of Jammu and Kashmir on a petition filed by General Officer Commanding (GOC), 15 Corps, challenging the proceedings pending in the trial court on the grounds that prior sanction of the government under Section 7 of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990, has not been obtained and hence the proceedings stood vitiated.

All the courts below, including the State High Court, have dismissed the petition of the GOC.

The incident relates to the massacre of 35 Sikhs on March 20, 2000 at Chittisinghpora during the visit of the then US President Bill Clinton to India.

The army and Jammu and Kashmir police conducted a joint operation to search for the culprits and one suspected terrorist Mohammad Yaqoob Wagey was arrested. During the interrogation, he provided some information regarding the possible hideouts of the militants at Punchalthan area of Anantnag. Five suspected militants were killed in the encounter of March 25, 2000.

The CBI gave a clean chit to the state police but filed chargesheets against five Army personnel, namely Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lt Col Brijendra Pratap Singh, Major Sourav Sharma, Major Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan for murder.

GOC challenged the prosecution on the grounds of 'on sanction' but the application was dismissed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sessions Judge and by the State High Court on July 10, 2007.


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