The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on September 4 a plea by more than 300 Army personnel who have challenged the registration of first information reports against them in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir, where the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, is in force, PTI reported.

The law gives the military sweeping powers to search and arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”, and to do so with a degree of immunity from prosecution. The petitioners have argued that they were being prosecuted for performing their duties in disturbed areas and such cases lower the morale of military and para-military forces.

Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta said the matter has to be heard by the bench that had set up a Special Investigation Team in 2017 to inquire into 1,528 cases of alleged extrajudicial killings in Manipur.

The Army officers filed the petition two weeks after the Central Bureau of Investigation informed the Supreme Court that two chargesheets had been filed in connection with the alleged fake encounters in Manipur. The court had earlier reprimanded the agency for its handling of the case and had asked CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma to appoint 12 more officers to assist the Special Investigation Team.

The Manipur Police is also reportedly planning to move the Supreme Court to question its decision to ask the CBI to register FIRs against police officers for alleged extra-judicial killings.