The Supreme Court on Monday ruled out an inquiry into the firing incident in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district in January, in which three civilians were killed, till April 24 when it will take up the case. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud was hearing a petition filed by Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh, alleging that the Jammu and Kashmir Police had falsely accused his son Major Aditya Kumar of firing at civilians.

The police had filed a first information report against Kumar after the deaths and the district administration had ordered a magisterial inquiry. On February 12, the Supreme Court had restrained the police from taking any coercive steps against Kumar.

The Jammu and Kashmir government told the bench that Kumar had not been mentioned as an accused in the FIR, but as the Army officer who had led the police convoy. When the court asked whether this meant that Kumar would not be named an accused, the state government said it could not commit either way. “It depends on the investigation,” the state government said, according to NDTV.

The Supreme Court then directed the state government not to start the investigation against Kumar. “After all, it is a case of an Army officer, not an ordinary criminal,” the chief justice observed.

On January 27, soldiers from the 10th Garhwal Rifles unit had objected to a black flag with Islamic inscriptions in Shopian’s Ganowpara village. Villagers did not appreciate their demand to take down the flag – commonly associated with the Islamic State terrorist group – and construed it as an infringement on their religious beliefs. This triggered clashes, with the protestors pelting the Army convoy with stones. The three men were killed after the Army opened fire on the mob.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police had filed a case against the Army unit. The Army had filed a counter FIR and claimed that the protestors had provoked the soldiers of the 10th Garhwal Rifles unit “to the ultimate”.