The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued elaborate guidelines on death in police encounters ruling that there should be mandatory registration of FIRs and investigation by CID or any other independent agency in all cases of encounter deaths.
The apex court ruling becomes relevant as India has witnessed many controversial encounter killings with some of them proving to be fake or fabricated. A bench comprising of Chief Justice R M Lodha and Justice Rohinton Nariman said that no officer shall be given gallantry awards or out of turn promotions for encounter operations until the inquiry proves it genuine. The latest ruling brings a welcome relief to all the human rights organizations and to those living under the fear of such threats. The Court also ruled that the inquiry should be completed expeditiously and if a police officer is found guilty of involving in a fake encounter, he should be proceeded against legally and departmentally. The copy of the registered FIRs should be sent to the Court having jurisdiction over the area. The relatives of the victim should also be informed with no delay and compensation should be provided to the nearest family member, says the Court verdict. The police probing encounter killing should submit status of the investigation every six months to the state human rights body and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The PIL was filed by the NGO, People’s Union for Civil Liberties’ (PUCL) which along with NHRC suggested setting up a separate and independent probe agency under NHRC or the state human rights commission to probe all encounter killings.
Fake encounter killings have been on a rise in the country during 1995 – 97 leading to the deaths of 135 people in around 99 encounters which had prompted the Court to investigate into the matter. The government has been beefing up security and other counter terrorist measures to tackle the threat as well as the growth of terrorist groups. Mere suspicions and false prejudices along with hatred have claimed the lives of many young innocents with many of them detained without prior notice. They become victims to the police officials who pander to the selfish demands of their seniors or for their personal benefits. The existing laws have been extensively manipulated or misused. The government has always remained cold towards such issues and have failed to bring justice to the victims and their families inviting wide spread criticisms. The country’s black laws like the UAPA, TADA and POTA which were introduced to curtail the rights of the citizens, who were found to act against the national interest, were misused by the police to target the innocents. The police were given special rights to accuse anyone without any evidence and the government justifies the acts as built in security measures. Cases of Ishrat Jahan Raza, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and the Batla House encounters are instances of fake encounter killings. Such incidents are repeated even by the army along the borderlines. The authorities should take proper and stringent measures to sincerely implement the Court verdict with equal effort from organizations like PUCL in order to maintain peace and harmony in the country.