Shopian firing: SC bars action against Major Aditya & top 10 developments

The Supreme Court restrained the J&K Police from taking any "coercive steps" against Army officers. File photo
In a relief to Indian Army officers made accused in the Shopian firing case, including Major Aditya Kumar, the Supreme Court on Monday restrained the Jammu and Kashmir Police from taking any "coercive steps" against the accused. Three civilians had been killed in the firing incident last month. 

The apex court asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to file its response within two weeks to a plea by the father of accused Major Aditya Kumar.  

As reported on Friday, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the plea of the father of Major Aditya Kumar, an Army officer booked as an accused by Jammu & Kashmir Police in the recent Shopian firing incident, on Monday. A Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered advocate Aishwarya Bhati's submission that the plea of the father be heard on an urgent basis. The lawyer had said the FIR had been lodged illegally against Major Aditya Kumar in connection with the firing incident in Shopian.   

Three civilians were killed when Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village in Shopian late in January, prompting the chief minister to order an inquiry into the incident.

The FIR was registered against personnel of the 10 Garhwal Rifles, including Major Kumar, under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code.

Here are the top 10 developments:

1) 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. 

2) The Bench, comprising CJI Misra and Justices Khanwilkar and Chandrachud, also asked the counsel for Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh to share the copies of his petition with the office of Attorney General K K Venugopal and the Jammu and Kashmir government.

3) Besides seeking Venugopal's assistance in dealing with the matter, the Bench asked the state government to file its response to the plea within two weeks.

4) As an interim measure, it directed the state government not to take any coercive steps against the accused Army officials. 

5) Speaking to news agencies, advocate Aishwarya Bhati said: "On our prayer, the court has directed that no coercive action will be taken against Major Aditya Kumar in pursuance of the FIR lodged against him. It is a positive encouraging day." 

On our prayer the Court has directed that no coercive action will be taken against Major Aditya Kumar in pursuance of the FIR lodged against him. It is a positive encouraging day: Aishwarya Bhati, Advocate pic.twitter.com/wZMyk1h2CO

— ANI (@ANI) February 12, 2018

6) Speaking to news agencies, former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi said: "Court acknowledging the fact that matter requires consideration of highest court of the land has stopped proceedings in FIR. The state or J&K police can't take action against Major Aditya for what he did in excise of his duty." 

Court acknowledging the fact that matter requires consideration of highest court of the land has stopped proceedings in FIR. The state or J&K police can't take action against Major Aditya for what he did in excise of his duty: M Rohatgi on petition filed by Major Aditya's father pic.twitter.com/ZWpg3WZS3n

— ANI (@ANI) February 12, 2018

7) 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 bona fide actions in exercise of their duties.

It has also sought registration of FIR against people involved in terrorist activities, which had caused damage to property of the government.

8) Karamveer Singh has 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".

9) 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, the plea has said.

10) Singh has also referred to last year's incident of the mob lynching of 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.