“So you will allow him to roam free?” Justice Lokur asked.
In its order, the apex court said the accused should “normally” be arrested and in cases where investigation is pending, the suspects are subject to custodial interrogation. Having said this, the Bench left it to the CBI Director to take a “rational” decision whether the accused in the cases should be arrested or not.
“We do not want to force it on them [the CBI],” Justice U.U. Lalit, the second judge on the Bench, observed.
Mr. Verma assured the court that the CBI is “serious” about the investigation.
“Our intent is to complete it at the earliest in a time-bound manner,” he submitted. He said of the 41 FIRs registered, charge sheets were filed in court in two cases on Monday.
Mr. Verma said final reports would be submitted in the trial court in another five cases by August-end.
The CBI-SIT would further complete probe in 20 more cases in the next four months. Then the investigation into the remaining 14 of the 41 cases would begin from December this year.
Hearing the timeline, Justice Lalit remarked that the court would see light at the end of the tunnel probably only in March 2019. The court ordered more personnel for the SIT and suggested that the scrutiny process by senior officers before filing the charge sheets could be reduced and time saved as the SIT chief himself was a Joint Director with the CBI.
“Mr. Director, we are dealing with the lives of people,” Justice Lokur said. There is already “basic material” in the 41 cases which would help the CBI with a head-start, he said.
“The National Human Rights Commission had conducted its investigation into them and former Supreme Court judge, Justice Santosh Hegde, had also concluded that deaths occurred in an extra-judicial manner… basic material is there… you can do this quickly,” Justice Lokur observed.
The court fixed the next date of hearing for August 20, and asked the CBI Director to be present again and said it would see how far the probe has progressed.
The court is hearing a PIL petition seeking a probe into as many as 1,528 cases of extra-judicial killings in Manipur allegedly by the Army, Assam Rifles and the police
Meanwhile the CBI on Monday pinned the blame for the delay in the probe on ‘difficulties’ in procuring documents from security forces.
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