HC directs State to treat death of deceased as civilian death not due to militancy

JAMMU, MAY 17: In a petition filed by Abdul Ahad Lone who was working as a casual labourer with the Army whose father was killed by Army filed a petition in the State High Court seeking that respondents produce the report filed by the petitioner before the Police Station Trehgam and report pertaining to the dead body of the deceased Ahmad Lone and any other material if collected during the investigation before this Court and thereafter the Court may direct the Crime Branch Srinagar to conduct and complete the investigation and produce the Challan against the accused before the Court of competent jurisdiction.
Justice Sanjeev Kumar after hearing both the sides while accepting the inquiry report submitted by the Principal Sessions Judge, Kupwara and directed the respondents to treat the death of deceased Ahmad Lone as a death of a civilian caused by firing of the army personnel and not in any militancy related incident connected with the deceased. That being so, the next of kin of the deceased, namely, the petitioner shall be entitled to all the benefits/reliefs those are available to dependent of a civilian killed in an action by the State as per applicable norms/Rules. Respondent No.1 shall consider the claim of the petitioner for permissible benefits like ex-gratia, compassionate appointment or payment of cash compensations in lieu of compassionate appointment etc, as may be permissible under the applicable norms/Rules of the State, within a period of two months from the date of receipt of certified copy of this order.
In the petition it has been submitted that Petitioner submits that he was working as a casual labour with the Army and he had to carry load from base camp to advanced pickets, which were in Jungles of Kupwara range. According to the petitioner, on May 18, 1993 he was given the load to carry which was so heavy that he could not carry alone. Therefore, he asked his father to help him to carry the load at the requisite place. After delivering the load, petitioner’s father left for his home and he had to pass through a thick forest. In the evening when the petitioner came to his house he found that his father had not returned and accordingly he went to the Army Camp and reported about missing of his father. Thereafter, on 19th May, 1993 petitioner submitted a report in Police Station Kupwara. After permission was granted, that too, after eight days, to search for the dead body, they found the dead body kept under the bushes. Thereafter the dead body was handed over to the Police and autopsy was conducted but thereafter no investigation in the matter was conducted nor was any information given to the petitioner about the result of investigation. Justice Sanjeev Kumar observed that admittedly, the investigation conducted by the police authorities concluded the case as ‘not traced’ whereas in the inquiry conducted by the Sessions Judge, Kupwara in terms of order of this Court, it has been concluded that the death of the deceased had not occurred in any militancy related incident and thus, would be deemed as a death of a civilian caused by firing by the army personnel.
Court further observed that now the question which arises for consideration of this Court is that if the inquiry report submitted by the Principal Sessions Judge, Kupwara is accepted what would be the relief which can be granted to the petitioner at this stage. Although, the relief claimed by the petitioner has been rendered infructuous due to submission of the closure report by the police and its acceptance by the Court of competent jurisdiction, yet the second relief which is general in nature can be granted in favour of the petitioner in view of the subsequent developments i.e. findings of fact returned by the Sessions Judge, Kupwara in an inquiry held pursuant to the directions of this Court and Principal Sessions Judge, Kupwara has concluded that the death of the deceased be deemed as a death of a civilian caused by firing by the army personnel and that the death has not occurred in any militancy related incident. However, in the inquiry report it has also not been established as to who was responsible for the death of the deceased father of the petitioner. More so, Major Pankaj Joshi on whose report FIR No.56/93 under Section 3/4 TADA was registered has already died, therefore, the relief which has been recommended by the Principal Sessions Judge, Kupwara is the only relief which can be granted in favour of the petitioner; Justice Sanjeev Kumar observed and disposed off with the direction to the state. JNF