The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed petitions filed by former and serving Army and police officers requesting that Justices MB Lokur and UU Lalit recuse themselves from hearing the Manipur alleged fake encounter cases, PTI reported. A Special Investigation Team of the Central Bureau of Investigation is probing the cases.

The Supreme Court is hearing a public interest litigation calling for an investigation into 1,528 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur. In July 2017, the court constituted a Special Investigation Team to look into the matter.

The petitioners had sought the judges’ recusal for calling the accused “murderers”. The Centre had lent its support to the pleas filed by chargesheeted personnel of the Manipur Police, claiming the judges’ remarks affected the morale of the police and the armed forces.

While the plea was initially mentioned before former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, it was later heard by the same bench whose recusal was sought, reported Bar & Bench.

But the policemen had no reason to doubt the ongoing probe, the court said. The judges added that the institutional integrity of both the judiciary and the CBI should be maintained.

After the Special Investigation Team had filed two chargesheets against Army and police personnel in July, the Supreme Court had reprimanded the CBI for its handling of the case. “According to you, there are 14 murderers in these cases and they are loafing around Manipur freely?” the court had said. “You have not arrested any of them? The CBI filed FIRs against dead persons who are victims. This is unbelievable.”

The Supreme Court had said the judge’s remarks were not “designed or directed” against any individual as they had taken place during a discussion with the CBI director on the status of the case.

The bench on Monday said that remarks made during the hearing were not meant to compromise the investigation.