The SC had asked the CBI director as to why it had not arrested the accused despite the allegations of killings

NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented step, more than 300 Army men deployed in disturbed areas of the country are likely to move the Supreme Court on Tuesday, protesting against the apex court’s direction to the CBI to register FIRs against some armed forces personnel for allegedly being involved in old encounter cases in Manipur, which they allege took away the ‘AFSPA shield’ that protected them for action during anti-insurgency operations.

A bench, headed by Justice Madan Lokur, had recently slammed the CBI director for delay in filing of FIRs against Manipur police commandos and armed forces personnel who were allegedly involved in what a PIL alleged as ‘extra-judicial killings’ during operations in the last two decades. The SC had asked the CBI director as to why it had not arrested the accused despite the allegations of killings.

The CBI director had told the court that after the agency filed its chargesheets, it was for the trial court concerned to decide whether to grant the accused bail or send them to judicial custody. However, the armed forces personnel, who under Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) enjoy virtual immunity from prosecution by police for alleged ‘excesses’ committed during operational exigencies, felt that anti-insurgency operations were vital to protect national integrity and that while doing so, they do not know when there would be a lethal burst of fire that could jeopardise their own lives.

The petition, likely to be filed on Tuesday and mentioned for early hearing by advocate Aishwarya Bhati before CJI Dipak Misra, says the AFSPA immunity was vital for the soldiers to undertake operations against insurgents, who are armed with sophisticated weapons and slip into neighbouring countries to frustrate hot pursuit.

The Manipur Police too is planning to move a petition before the SC to question the efficacy of the SC’s decision to ask the CBI to register FIRs against police commandos who too faced FIRs similar to the armed forces personnel for alleged extra-judicial killings.