The Past Catches Up -THE HINDU

The SC rightly rules that extra-judicial killings cannot be overlooked owing to lapse of time

By ordering an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation into more than 80 cases of suspected extra-judicial killings in Manipur, the Supreme Court has reiterated the principle of accountability as an essential part of the rule of law. These cases involved either suspected fake encounters or the use of excessive or retaliatory force. The court has rightly rebuffed an attempt by the government to stall any probe into these deaths on the ground that they were too old to be raked up now. It has taken the view that the killing of a person who was possibly innocent cannot be overlooked owing to mere lapse of time. The state cannot take advantage of its own inaction and scuttle a probe by citing the delay as a reason. Last year, the court had ruled that the armed forces cannot escape investigation for excesses even in places where they enjoy special powers, and that the legal protection provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, will have to yield to the principles of human rights. It is surprising that even after this ruling on petitions demanding an inquiry into 1,528 deaths in counter-insurgency operations in Manipur, the Attorney General had argued against the court ordering an investigation into some specific instances. In fact, he had come up with the unpalatable argument that inquiries conducted by the authorities in Manipur were biased in favour of the citizens owing to local pressure and the ground situation. The court stood firm in its assessment, deprecating the suggestion that all inquiries were biased and motivated.

The court’s order is yet another reminder that AFSPA has contributed to the climate of impunity in States where it is in force, especially in Manipur, and this may trigger a fresh demand for its repeal. The situation under AFSPA is so hostile to the concept of human rights that in many of these cases there was no inquiry at all. In some instances, the First Information Report was against the victim and not against the alleged perpetrators. It will not be easy for the investigators to get to the bottom of these incidents. It is possible that the special team to be constituted by the CBI Director will find witnesses hard to come by and face difficulties in gathering evidence in many cases. However, that cannot be a reason for denying or putting off a formal criminal investigation as required in law. Justice will be served if there is successful prosecution in at least some cases. Another worrying aspect in the domain of human rights is that the National Human Rights Commission has been reduced to a “toothless tiger”. It is grossly understaffed despite its increasing workload, and many State governments show little respect for its guidelines and instructions. The court’s directive that the Centre take note of the NHRC’s concerns and remedy the situation could not have come a day too soon.


1) Unpalatable (adjective) (अनाकर्षक , स्वादहीन ) :un-pal-a-tuh-bull
Meaning -unpleasant to the taste
Synonyms -uninviting, unappealing, unsavoury.
Antonyms- delicious, tasty, pleasant, palatable
Example -Although she tried different recipes, every dish the terrible cook created was unpalatable.

2) Rebuff (verb) (मना करना ):  re-buff
Meaning -to turn down or refuse
Synonyms -reject, refuse, repel.
Antonyms - welcome , acceptance , approve
Example - Because the position does not pay well, Kelly decided to rebuff her supervisor’s offer of a promotion.
3)Scuttle (verb) ( तीव्र गति,धातु की बोरसी या अंगीठी):  Ska-tal
Meaning - to scamper or dash
Synonyms - deliberately cause to fail; hurry/hasten.
Antonyms - Drawdle , crawl , creep
Example - Because I was running late, I had to scuttle through the airport parking lot.

4) Impunity (noun)  (दण्ड मुक्ति): im-pyu-nity
Meaning - free from punishment; exempt from the consequences
Synonyms -  immunity, indemnity, exemption from punishment.
Antonyms-  charge, castigation
Example -Despite the heinous nature of the crimes they committed, the old men received impunity from the court because of their ages.

5) Repeal (verb)  ( खण्डन):  re-peal
Meaning -  to cancel
Synonyms -  revoke, cancel, nullify/invalidate.
Antonyms -  Approval , enact , achieve , accomplish
Example - Taking over the company, the new manager’s first act was torepeal many of the outdated policies.

6) Retaliatory (adjective) (मुंहतोड़ , बदला लेना)  :  re-tal-i-a-to-ry   
Meaning -  characterized by a desire for revenge ,to respond to an attack in some way
Synonyms -: relatiative, retributive, retributory, vindicatory.
Antonyms - Agreeable , considerate , forgiving
Example -The temporary cease-fire agreement does not preclude possible retaliatory attacks later.
7) Deprecate (verb) (अवमानित करना): dep-ri-keyt
Meaning - to criticize or express disapproval
Synonyms -  criticize, censure, condemn.
Antonyms -
Example - When you are teaching someone, you have to remember to notdeprecate their efforts to a point where they simply want to stop trying.

8) Grossly (adverb)  (निहायत , बुरी तरह से): gross-ly
Meaning - in a very obvious and unacceptable manner
Synonyms - flagrantly; extremely; excessively.
Antonyms - praise , commend , endorse , build up
Example -Funding of education had been grossly inadequate for years

9) Stall (verb) ( रुकावट, बाधा): stall
Meaning -  to stop or prevent progress or advancement
Synonyms - stop, obstruct, impede/hinder.
Antonyms - Proceed , actuate , allow
Example -Accidents on the road often stall the flow of traffic by blocking off lanes or otherwise getting in the way.

10) Lapse (noun)( चूक): lap-ss
Meaning - A temporary failure; a slip
Synonyms failure, mistake, fault.
Antonyms - progress , perfection , accuracy
Example -Even if you just commit one crime, that single lapse in character can land you in jail.

Now considering the article above as a Reading Comprehension, try to answer the following questions-
  • What order the court has ruled last year related to armed forces ?
  • Why the National Human Rights Commission is termed as ''toothless tiger'' in the given passage?
Now it's time to check your vocabulary. We have given below some words from the same article. Try to make sentences with these words in the comment section which will be reviewed by us.
  • Yield
  • Hostile
  • Biased
  • Remedy
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