The Telegraph
Saturday , April 22 , 2017

SC to scan BSF immunity

New Delhi, April 21: The Supreme Court today admitted a petition filed by a Calcutta-based NGO seeking a probe into alleged torture and extra-judicial killings by Border Security Force personnel and questioning the constitutional validity of a rule that gives BSF members immunity from being tried in regular courts.

According to the petition filed by the Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha, Sections 46 and 47 of the Border Security Force Act, 1968, which grants the immunity, are constitutionally invalid as they compel people who have been raped or tortured or those whose family members have been killed by BSF personnel to approach only the security force courts.

Counsel Bijon Ghosh, appearing for the NGO, told the Supreme Court that the security force courts had relatively junior officers and victims seldom got legal aid.

The petitioner alleged that there were more than 200 cases of BSF personnel carrying out extra-judicial killings or torture in border areas. According to the NGO, the cases were never probed by Bengal police. A number of women were raped by BSF personnel, the NGO alleged.

"The present case will show that the procedure followed by Bengal police makes a mockery of the rule of law. This petition pertains to the cases of torture followed by extra-judicial executions of more than 200 Indians by the Border Security Force between 2005 and 2011," the petition said.

The NGO said that in over 100 of these cases, there were eyewitnesses of the BSF taking people into custody and torturing them, leading to their death.

In 2014, the Supreme Court had sought the Centre's response on the petition, which was filed in 2012. The matter came up for hearing today.

A bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul heard lawyer Ghosh's submission briefly and admitted the petition. The court will hear the plea in detail to determine the validity of Sections 46 and 47. However, no formal date has been fixed for the next hearing.

The petition alleged that Bengal police registered FIRs against the deceased instead of the BSF personnel and closed the case on that ground.

"As a result, not a single one of the more than 200 cases mentioned in the petition was investigated by the police," the NGO said.

"The BSF operates above the law, their mechanical explanation of the deaths are accepted as true in all cases. The statements of the eyewitnesses are not recorded as no investigation is done and the cases are closed," the petition alleged.

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