Guwahati, March 17: Gauhati High Court has held that the deaths of five youth, who were student leaders, in 1994 were caused in an army operations and ordered compensation of Rs 20 lakh each.
Justice Achintya Malla Bujor Barua and Justice Robin Phukan stated, “Without arriving at any conclusion as to whether the death was caused in a manner acceptable in law or in a manner unacceptable in law but however, as the materials on record clearly indicates that the death had been caused in an army operation, although the materials available on record cannot lead to a definite conclusion as to whether the death was caused in a manner acceptable in law or unacceptable in law and for the interest of justice, we order the respondents in the Union of India through the army authorities to pay adequate compensation to the families of the five deceased persons. Without proceeding in the matter any further, we accordingly direct the respondents in the Union of India through the army authorities to pay an amount of Twenty Lakhs as compensation to the family members of each of the deceased persons namely Prabin Sonowal, Akhil Sonowal, Debajit Biswas, Pradip Dutta and Bhupen Moran.“
The court added that to understand the veracity of the allegations that the death of the five persons took place in a manner other than a manner acceptable in law, an enquiry by the CBI was held wherein there is a conclusion that the army personnel concerned are guilty of the charges and, therefore, charge sheets were filed in the competent criminal court, but as the matter is covered by the Army Act of 1950, therefore, the proceedings were held in a Court Martial, where the conclusion is that the army personnel are not guilty of the charges.
The CBI report dated 06.02.2002 also arrived at its conclusion that two other army personnel namely Col. A.K. Lal, Commanding Officer of 18th Bn., Punjab Regt. and Major Thomas Mathew of 18th Bn. Punjab Regt. Coy Commander ‘B’ Coy is liable to be prosecuted under Sections 302/201 read with Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code as because Col. A.K. Lal had planned the entire operation and Major Thomas Mathew was leading the party and had ordered the firing.