New Delhi, July 25: The Jammu and Kashmir police told the Supreme Court that there was no need for sanction from the Government of India to register a criminal case against Army personnel.
"Even under the AFSPA, the Army Act or under any other law in force, there is no prohibition of registration of FIR against an army personnel," the Jammu and Kashmir police said in its affidavit filed in response to a petition by Lt Colonel Karamveer Singh, father of Major Aditya Kumar of 10 Garhwal Rifles, for quashing of an FIR registered against him in connection with the death of three civilians in alleged army firing in Shopian on January 27.
It said sanction would be required only at the stage of taking cognisance by a court.
Interestingly, the affidavit by Anuj Gupta, Senior Prosecuting Officer, Police Headquarters (Srinagar), said the FIR "does not arraign" Major Aditya "as an accused".
Clarifying that he is also not mentioned in the column of accused persons, it said no specific role had been attributed to Major Aditya in the FIR.
The Supreme Court had earlier stayed all proceedings against Major Aditya and said, "He is an army officer and not an ordinary criminal."
The affidavit of the Jammu and Kashmir Police is at variance with the stand of the GoI , as Attorney General KK Venugopal had in March supported the petitioner and criticised the state of Jammu and Kashmir for registering a criminal case against a serving Army officer without sanction from the Central government.
Venugopal had quoted Section 7 of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1990, according to which no prosecution can be launched against a serving army officer without prior sanction from the Central government.
Besides quashing of the FIR, petitioner Lt Colonel Karamveer Singh has sought guidelines to protect soldiers' rights and adequate compensation for them.
Three civilians were killed on January 27 when Army men fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village in Shopian, prompting the chief minister to order an inquiry into the incident.
The FIR was registered against the personnel of 10 Garhwal unit of the Army, including Major Kumar, under Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code.
The Army had on February 1 presented its version of events contradicting the police FIR. It claimed that troops opened fire on protesters in "self-defence" to prevent imminent lynching of an officer, snatching of weapons by villagers and burning of the Army vehicles.
The petitioner contended that FIR had been illegally filed against Major Aditya Kumar and that his son had been "wrongly and arbitrarily" named in the FIR as the February 27 incident related to an Army convoy on bona fide military duty in an area under the AFSPA, which was isolated by an "unruly and deranged" mob pelting stones causing damage to military vehicles.