Colonel Amit Kumar, currently posted as a legal officer at a corps headquarters in J&K, who had drafted a petition against AFPSA in the Supreme Court had also drafted a petition of Major Aditya Kumar, who was accused of killing three civilians in Shopian, South Kashmir. The petition on AFSPA alleges dilution of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) without specific amendment to that effect.
Colonel Kumar, a brigadier and among the 74 officers in the list, told The Indian Express that Army personnel who served earlier or are currently serving in counter-insurgency areas, or may serve in the future, voluntarily joined the petition which was filed by Aishwarya Bhati, advocate-on-record, and will be argued by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi.
“I did not organise anyone for this. Once people came to know, which happens in the world of social media, they sent their vakalatnama to Bhati. In fact, we have more than 400 additional vakalatnamas lying with her even now,” Colonel Kumar said.
Colonel Kumar conferred the Shaurya Chakra on this year’s Independence Day. The petition, filed on behalf of his father Lt Colonel Karamveer Singh in the Supreme Court and argued by Rohatgi pro bono, sought quashing of the FIR registered by J&K Police over the Shopian killings. The petitioner said the FIR was registered without the government of India’s sanction, a must in a state where AFSPA is in place.
“Under Article 32 of the Constitution and Fundamental Rights what is due is what the petition is asking for. These are duty-bound soldiers whose morale is affected if there is any confusion about the bonafide duty on legal government orders. These are all cases which are in areas under the Disturbed Areas Act with AFSPA applicable,” Colonel Kumar said.
The petition states that the Army personnel argue that that the procedure adopted so far has created a hostile environment on ground, leading to demoralisation. The Army officers, the petition states, are in a “confused state of mind”, torn between not following orders and getting tried by Court Martial on one hand, or being prosecuted, on the other hand, by the criminal justice system for doing their duty.
Moreover, a plea filed by around 300 Armed personnel in the Supreme Court of India challenging the registration of FIRs against them for operating in areas where Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), will be heard on August 20, reported the Press Trust of India. The plea said the registration of FIR and prosecution of Army personnel was against the provisions of AFSPA as they grant immunity to them against the prosecution for actions performed during official duties.
The plea said that such prosecutions lower the morale of the military and para-military forces. Army personnel are being prosecuted for alleged excesses and fake encounters in areas like Manipur and Kashmir.