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Alok Kumar Verma, the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, got an earful from the Supreme Court today for the agency's failure to arrest the accused in alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur. One of the insurgency-hit states, Manipur has witnessed a number of allegations of extra-judicial killings by the army and security forces. The top court, which is hearing a petition seeking investigation into 1,528 cases, had asked the agency to file chargesheet in four cases that allegedly involved the army and the Assam Rifles.
But with the agency failing to file the chargesheet by the due date - July 27 - the CBI chief was asked to give an explanation.
"According to you, there are 14 murderers in these cases and they loafing around Manipur freely? You haven't arrested any of them?" said the bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and UU Lalit.
The judges were not satisfied with the agency's explanation that two chargesheets have been filed and five more will follow in August. "The CBI filed FIRs against dead persons who are victims. This is unbelievable," the court said.
When Mr Verma explained that the agency was going by the book and sticking to the lengthy procedure of filing chargesheet in such cases, the court ordered that the layers of scrutiny process be cut down from seven to two.
The agency was also ordered to provide 12 more officers to assist the Special Investigation Team, so the process of filing chargesheet can be fast-tracked. The court had formed the SIT in July 14 last year and tasked it with investigating the cases and lodging of First Information Reports.
The court, however, left to the CBI to decide on arrests and custodial interrogation - with an observation. "We are aware of war crimes in the neighbouring countries and they are being tried," said the judges.
The court will take stock of the matter on August 20 and has asked the CBI chief to be present for the hearing.
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