The Supreme Court on Monday said it appeared that the matter relating to probe into extra-judicial killings, alleged fake encounters by the Army, Assam Rifles and police in insurgency-hit Manipur was not being taken up seriously by a Special Investigation Team of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The apex court observed this after it was informed that despite its order in July last year, only 11 first information reports out of a total of 92 cases have been registered by the SIT in the matter.
"It appears to us that the matter is not being taken up by the CBI and the SIT with the seriousness which it deserve," a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit said and directed the CBI's deputy inspector general, who is in-charge of the SIT probe, to remain present before it on January 16.
The bench also asked the DIG to file a status report of the progress made in the investigation in these cases.
The top court had on July 14 last year set up an SIT comprising five CBI officers and ordered registration of FIRs and probe into the extra-judicial killings in Manipur.
It had asked the CBI director to nominate a team of five officers for the SIT, who will lodge the necessary FIRs and complete the investigation into alleged fake encounters by December 31 last year.
During the hearing, the lawyer appearing for petitioners, said that the court had ordered lodging of FIRs till December 31 but as per the office report, only 11 such FIRs have been registered in a total of 92 matters.
"The SIT is dragging its feet," the counsel said after which the bench asked Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh about it.
The court also asked Singh as to whether any one from the SIT was present in the courtroom for the hearing.
"Our experience is that if an SIT has been set up, somebody from the SIT should be present in the court for two things. One to tell us what is going on and second is to instruct the lawyers. SIT cannot and should not say that our job is only to investigate," the court said.
Meanwhile, the ASG, who initially said that the matter was listed for only an application, told the bench the DIG would be present in the court on the next date of hearing.
Senior lawyer Colin Gonsalves, who was appearing for the petitioners, said that former head constable of the Manipur police Herojit Singh, who was an eye witness to fake encounter cases, has filed an application in the court.
He said that CBI team had raided Herojit's residence and in 2010 seized his three diaries, in which he had recorded details of such fake encounter cases.
Gonsalves also said the SIT has not yet recorded the statements of witnesses.
However, the ASG said that Herojit's case has nothing to do with the matter pending before the court and it was not maintainable.
He contended that Herojit was an accused in one of these cases in which trial was going on and he should have moved the lower court or the high court on the issue of these diaries.
Regarding the ASG's submissions, Gonsalves said Herojit was accused in a case in which he had allegedly shot at an unarmed man on the instructions of his senior officer.
The apex court, which is hearing a PIL seeking probe into 1,528 extra-judicial killings, had in July last year ordered registration of first information reports in 81 cases including 32 probed by a Commission of Enquiry, 32 cases investigated by judicial enquiries and high courts, 11 cases in which compensation has been awarded by the NHRC and six cases probed by a commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Santosh Hegde.