Nationalism not a monopoly of state, says apex court

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 04, 2013 14:40 hrs

New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday said that nationalism was not the monopoly of the state and it could not point fingers at those who question the conduct of its counter- insurgency operations in Manipur.

"Nationalism is not a monopoly of the state. Simply because you represent the state, you don't have the authority to impute motives on others questioning your actions," said an apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai.

The court's observation came when senior counsel Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Manipur government, asked the petitioner association whether it opposed the demand for the cessation of Manipur from India.

The court is hearing a petition by Manipur-based Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association seeking a probe by a special investigation team into extra-judicial killings of youths in the state by the army and other security forces.

Asking if the petitioner families should establish their credentials as nationalists, the court said, "These are the allegations that drive people to anti-national activities."

Justice Desai told Ranjit Kumar, "You talk about insurgency but don't point fingers at them."

Making it clear that the court was aggrieved about the loss of life be it thatxzxzx of security man or police personnel or a common man on street, Justice Alam noted that though India had lost a prime minister (Indira Gandhi) and a former prime minister (Rajiv Gandhi) in terror attacks, the attackers were not lynched.

Referring to the "horrendous" 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Justice Alam asked: "Do we lynch them (the terrorists responsible)?"

"So long we are here and have rule of law, no one can be shot in an unlawful manner," he added.

Even as the court took exception to senior counsel questioning the credentials of the petitioner association, Justice Alam indicated that court may set up an inquiry committee comprising former apex court judge, Justice Santosh Hegde, former chief election commissioner J.M.Lyngdoh and a senior ranking police officer to inquire into five cases of alleged extra-judicial killings.

The court said it would pass formal order on setting up the inquiry committee only after taking consent of Justice Hegde and Lyngdoh, and observed that it could not find better persons than Justice Hegde and Lyngdoh to conduct the inquiry.

Having indicated what it intended to do, the court said that it would not go as far as accepting the prayer of setting up an SIT to probe the alleged cases of extra-judicial killings by the security forces.

Earlier, appearing for the petitioner association, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves said that reports of the magisterial inquiry into the incidents of encounter were "stereotypes" where neither the victims' family members nor security personnel appeared to tender evidence.

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