Jammu and Kashmir high court on Thursday stayed the proceedings in the Macchil fake encounter case relating to the killing of three youths near the Line of Control in the Valley in April this year.
Justice Hakim Imtiyaz Hussain stayed the proceedings after Union of India filed a petition seeking orders to set aside the rulings of the subordinate courts on the option of having the accused army men in the alleged fake encounter case tried in a court martial.
Advocate D S Thakur, who appeared on behalf of Union of India, said the petition was filed as jurisdictional issues were involved. The petition has sought setting aside of orders passed by Chief Judicial Magistrate Sopore on July 15 and Principal District and Sessions Judge Baramulla on December 13 in which they had rejected the army's claim to option of trying the accused personnel.
Justice Hussain called for the records of the case and the next hearing in the High Court is likely to be held next month after the vacations.
Rejecting the revision petition filed by the army against the CJM court's order, the Sessions court directed the army to present the accused personnel before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Sopore on December 24.
However, army had moved an application in the sessions court seeking time to challenge the order in the High Court. CJM Sopore on July 15 had rejected an army application seeking transfer of the case to Army so that the accused personnel can be tried in General court martial.
While rejecting the army application, CJM Sopore Kauser Qureshi in his order said, "The trial of the case in relation to the said accused persons too is necessary to be conducted by a civil court. In view of the conjoined reading of the army act 1950, Section 549 CrPC and Court Martial adjustment of jurisdictional rules, the case falls beyond the option of its trial by court martial."
On the same day, police had charged 11 persons, including a colonel and two majors of the army with the murder of three youths.
Nine army officials and two civilians have been charged under Sections 302 (murder), 364 (abduction), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intent) of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) for the killing of three youth from Nadihal area of Baramulla district in an alleged fake encounter in April this year.
The three youths Reyaz Ahmad, Mohammad Shafi and Shahzad Ahmad, all hailing from Nadihal area of Baramulla district were allegedly lured by a former SPO Bashir Ahmad Lone and his accomplices to Macchil on the pretext of getting them high-paying jobs in the army and later handed over to army for Rs 50,000 each.
The trio were later allegedly shot dead in a staged gunbattle near the Line of Control and dubbed as Pakistani infiltrators. The case came to light when police found discrepancies in the FIR lodged by the Army unit and launched an inquiry into the incident.
The army personnel against whom charge sheet has been filed include Colonel D K Pathania of the 4 Rajput Rifles, Major Opendra Singh, Major Maurya (Adjutant), Subedar Satbir, Hawaldar Bir Singh, Sepoy Chadra Bhan, Sepoy Nagendra Singh, Sepoy Narendra Singh and Abbas Hussain Shah of the Territorial Army (TA).
Army had removed Colonel Pathania from the commanding of his unit while Major Opendra, who was the second officer of the unit, was suspended as an internal inquiry was launched by the force.