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HC rejects plea against officers

- Case dismissed over jurisdiction

Imphal, May 5: The High Court of Manipur today dismissed a petition filed against vice-chief of army staff Lt Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag and Col Govindan Shreekumar by a family member of one of the three victims of alleged extra-judicial killings by soldiers of the 3 Corps in Dimapur in 2010.

Phijam Manikumar — the brother of Phijam Naobi, one of the three Manipuri victims — had filed a petition in the high court on April 26 praying for action against Lt Gen Suhag and Col Shreekumar, alleging that they were involved in the abduction and killing of the three boys.

According to the petition, the Manipuri boys — Naobi, Roshan, also known as Ronald, and Thounaojam Prem, also known as Romen — were abducted by the soldiers of the 3 Corps in Dimapur on March 10, 2010. Their bodies were recovered from a river at Lakhijan, under Bokajan police station of Assam, on March 17 the same year.

The petition said Lt Gen. Suhag was the general officer commanding of 3 Corps when the incident took place and Col Govindan was the commanding officer of its intelligence unit.

A division bench of acting Chief Justice Laxmi Kanta Mohapatra and Justice Nongmeikappam Kotiswar, dismissed the petition on its withdrawal by the petitioner.

The petitioner sought to withdraw the case after the division bench ruled that it did not have any jurisdiction in the case as the abduction took place in Dimapur and the bodies were found in Assam.

The high court was not satisfied with the petitioner’s counsel’s plea that Manipur was under the 3 Corps’ jurisdiction and therefore the court had jurisdiction as the victims hailed from Manipur.

The petitioner’s counsel, Khaidem Mani Singh, said a similar petition would be filed very soon either with the Kohima bench of Gauhati High Court or at Gauhati High Court.

The central government’s standing counsel, Amarjit Naorem, later told reporters that the petition had many factual errors.

Citing one such error, he said at the time of the incident, Lt Gen. Suhag was posted at Delhi as Major General and he was posted as 3 Corps commander only on April 16, 2011, after more than one year of the alleged abduction and killings.

Naorem claimed that the two letters written by Maj. T. Ravi Kumar in March 2010 and January 2012 to army authorities had nothing to do with the alleged abduction and killing of the three boys.

The petition claimed that in the two letters, Kumar complained about the killing of the three Manipuri boys inside the 3 Corps complex by some army personnel.

A large number of army personnel in civvies turned up at the court to hear the proceedings.