- Jammu and Kashmir government says Major Aditya Kumar not accused
- Three civilians were killed when soldiers fired at a mob
- Officer's father filed petition asking the court cancels FIR
The top court's order came after the Jammu and Kashmir government underlined that Major Aditya Kumar had not been named as an accused in the First Information Report registered by the police but as the army officer leading the police convoy.
Three civilians were killed when Army personnel in this convoy fired at a mob that was throwing stones at them in Ganovpora village in Shopian. The Army had stressed that the army personnel fired when they were "provoked to the ultimate".
But when the court inquired if this implied that Major Aditya Kumar would not be named as an accused, the Jammu and Kashmir government indicated it could not commit either way. "It depends on Investigation," the state government said.
A bench chaired by Chief Justice Dipak Misra ordered the state government to put the investigation on hold till April 24 when it would deliver its ruling in this case.
"After all, it is a case of an Army officer, not an ordinary criminal," Chief Justice observed.
The officer's father, Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh had filed the petition last month, asking that the court cancels the FIR against his son, calling it "bad in law".
Lt Col Singh, a Kargil war veteran, had pointed out that Major Aditya Kumar was not even present at the spot during the firing. An FIR against serving army personnel had a "numbing effect" on the morale of soldiers operating against all odds in "inhospitable terrain" to "uphold the dignity of the Indian flag, he had petitioned.
During Tuesday's hearing, the central government also underlined that the state police could not have registered a case against Major Aditya Kumar and other personnel without the centre's permission since the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA was in force in the state.
The state government contested this version, asserting that there was no restriction on the police registering a case.
As the army action triggered unrest in the state, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti promised to take the case to its "logical conclusion".
But trouble started after it became known that the police had named the officer and his unit instead of filing a generic First Information Report that does not name anyone.
The BJP, which is part of the ruling alliance in the state, raised strong objections. Ms Mufti said the action was taken after consultations with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.