Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Supreme Court adjourns plea of mother of Army captain missing since 1997

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing in the plea filed by the mother of an Army man seeking directions to the Centre to take immediate steps for the repatriation or release of her son, Captain Sanjit Bhattacharjee, who has been missing since 1997 from the Rann of Kutch.

On March 11, 2022, Advocate Saurabh Mishra had mentioned the matter before the bench of Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, and Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli for urgent hearing in the matter. CJI Ramana had agreed to list matter in first week of April. Following which, the matter was listed today before the three-judge bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Sanjiv Khanna & Surya Kant. 

The Supreme Court had already issued notice to the Centre in this matter. The bench of former Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice V. Ramasubramanian had directed petitioner’s counsel Advocate Saurabh Mishra to provide the court with a list of people who are facing similar situations. 

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Kamla Bhattacharjee, the petitioner, submitted that her son has been languishing in some unknown Pakistan jail for the past 23 years without any FIR against him, but no appropriate action has been taken for his release by the government. 

The plea stated that petitioner’s son during his duty hours went for patrolling with the other members on the joint border in the Rann of Kutch, Gujarat and Pakistan on  April 19, 1997. Only 15 of the platoon’s members returned the next day, without the petitioner’s son and another platoon member, Lance Naik Ram Bahadur Thapa.

Further, the petition stated that in the span of the past 23 years, the petitioner’s son has not been given any opportunity to state his case before the appropriate authority. He has been deprived of the basic right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of the Constitution. Also fundamental rights under Article 20, 22 have been violated since he has been illegally detained in the Pakistan jail  when no case has been registered against him.

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The petitioner has submitted that it is the abundant duty of the Government of India to safeguard the right to life of every citizen of India including that of the petitioner’s son and ensure the guarantee of fundamental rights and take appropriate measures for his early release.

The petitioner has sought government’s intervention through the diplomatic channel of the Ministry of External Affairs, and a representation of the Government of India to take appropriate measures for his early release.

Case Name- Kamla Bhattacharjee Vs Union of India & Anr. 

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