After Supreme Court Friday said that it would examine a plea filed by the family members of five civilians killed in an alleged fake encounter in Pathribal area of South Kashmir in 2000, the victims kins said that their hopes to seek justice have come alive.
The family of Zahoor Ahmad Dalal has said that they are hopeful that the case will move forward in the right direction after a bench has agreed to examine the plea.
The matter reached the apex court after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had dismissed the plea of family members last year.
“Issue the notice, let the matter be listed for final disposal after six weeks,” a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar said.
“We are now hopeful that something concrete will come out of it, after the Supreme Court agrees to examine our plea, which was earlier dismissed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court,” said Nazir Ahmad Dalal.
Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, who is appearing for Nazir Ahmad Dalal said that the Army has not conducted the court martial against its personnel. She said that Jammu and Kashmir High Court was wrong in summarily dismissing the plea.
According to reports, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh—who is appearing for the Centre—said he has filed its response to the plea. The bench informed that was listing the matter for final disposal after six weeks and issued notice to the Centre, Army and CBI on the plea.
“This development may give a new life to the case that has been pending now for last 17 years now, we are hopeful that those guilty will be punished and justice will be served,” Nazir said.
The victim’s kin in their plea had demanded the resumption of trial before the CBI court, soon after the Army personnel were acquitted by the court of inquiry. The apex court had on October 7, 2016, ordered that the copy of the petition should be served to the Centre so that its counsel can assist the court.
The apex court had given an option of conducting the trial against the army men, either through court martial or criminal court in 2012, after which the military had opted for the court martial.
Against the high court’s April 27, 2016, order summarily dismissing the families’s plea, Dalal had filed the plea seeking criminal court proceeding before a CBI court for alleged killing of five civilians on March 25, 2000. The CBI had, initially, in 2006 indicted five men of the Rastriya Rifles for allegedly killing five civilians, in which three were dubbed as Pakistani militants responsible for the killing of 36 Sikhs at Chittisinghpura area of Anantnag district. Two other civilians were allegedly declared to be unknown terrorists.
The Jammu and Kashmir Govt had soon ordered the CBI probe into the incident, which on the basis of DNA tests had identified the bodies of civilians residents and were identified as Zahoor Ahmad Dalal, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Mohammad Yousuf Malik, Jumma Khan s/o Amirullah Khan and Jumma Khan s/o Faqirullah Khan.
In 2014, the Army had informed the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar that no prima facie case was made out against its personnel. The plea, filed by the families of the victims said that two forensic labs had found through DNA analysis that the bodies of those burnt and killed were of villagers of Anantnag district.
“The CBI found the killed persons sustained about 98 per cent burn injuries in addition to the bullet injuries pointing to the direction of excessive use of force.”
“It is impossible for the killed persons to suffer such extensive burn injuries in a genuine encounter. The encounter was staged with a view to extirpate the identity of killed person,” the plea filed by the families of five civilians killed said.
“The Army by resorting to the special procedure under the Army Act and rules has declared it to be a case of no evidence which finding has been arrived at in a wholly opaque process and in the face of established record,” the plea said.