The Supreme Court today agreed to hear on Monday the plea of an Army officer’s father that the FIR against his son, booked as an accused by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in the recent Shopian firing incident, be quashed. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered advocate Aishwarya Bhati’s submission that the father’s plea be heard on an urgent basis. The lawyer said the FIR has illegally been lodged against Major Aditya Kumar in connection with the firing incident in Shopian. “We will hear it on Monday,” the bench said. Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh said his son, a major in 10 Garhwal Rifles, was “wrongly and arbitrarily” named in the FIR as the incident relates to an Army convoy that was on bonafide military duty in an area under the AFSPA and was isolated by an “unruly and deranged” mob pelting stones, causing damage to military vehicles.
Three civilians were killed when Army personnel 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 personnel of 10 Garhwal Rifles, including Major Kumar, under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code. The petitioner has sought directions for guidelines to protect the rights of soldiers and adequate compensation so that no Army personnel is harassed by initiation of criminal proceedings for bonafide actions in exercise of their duties. It has also sought registration of FIR against persons involved in the terrorist activities which had caused damage to property of the government. Karamveer Singh said in his plea that his son’s intention was to save Army personnel and property and the fire was inflicted “only to impair and provide a safe escape from a savage and violent mob engaged in terrorist activity”.
The unruly mob was requested to disperse and not obstruct military in performance of their duties and not to damage government property but when the situation reached beyond control, a warning was issued to disperse, the plea said. The unruly behaviour of the “unlawful assembly” escalated and they got hold of a Junior Commissioned Officer and were in the process of lynching him when warning shots were fired to disperse the violent mob and protect public property, it submitted. Singh also referred to last year’s incident of a mob lynching DSP Mohd Ayub Pandith to apprise the top court about the situation in the state and the condition in which Army officials were working to control violent mobs in Kashmir.
“The petitioner is constrained to file the present writ petition for quashing of FIR, directly before this court in view of the extremely hostile situation on the ground, whereby an FIR has been registered by local police against the son of the petitioner, who is a serving Army officer and was performing bonafide duties as directed by the Union of India.” The manner in which the lodging of the FIR has been portrayed and projected by the political leadership and administrative higher-ups reflects the extremely hostile atmosphere in the state, it said.