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Encounter: Can Hyderabad Police Prove Their Claim?

Prof. Madabhushi Sridhar Acharyulu
10 Dec 2019 6:13 AM GMT
Encounter: Can Hyderabad Police Prove Their Claim?
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Whether Hyderabad Police ready to prove they killed four accused in self-defence? Will any police register murder case against the 'accused' police?

Only if the encounter killing is proved to be essential for killing, the police officers involved has to be considered as not accused, if not there should be a case registered and investigated, as per the guidelines and the rule of law today. If the claim of Hyderabad police is based on untruthful statements, it is difficult to believe truth of our national motto is 'satyameva jayathe'.

December 6, the Mahaparinirvan Diwas i.e., death anniversary of Ambedkar, passed on with Telangana police making headlines at national level, with sensational killing of four accused in a gang rape of Disha, veterinary doctor. The Police Commissioner of Cyberabad, VC Sajjanar told the media that they reached the crime spot at the early hours for the reconstruction of crime scene, where the accused suddenly snatched the weapons, started firing: and then police opened fire in retaliation that resulted in the death of four accused on the spot.
Sajjanar has a fame of two encounters. In August 2016, Sajjanar led a Greyhounds team- that shot dead former Naxalite Mohammed Nayeem Uddin, near Hyderabad. Police explained that when tried to arrest, he attacked, and used AK 47 to fire at the police team from inside jeep. Nayeem was later discovered to be a mafia kingpin having connections with politicians and authorities in various departments. Nayeem's survival might have led to startling revelations of scandals. His death has sealed all those possibilities, to the great convenience of persons. Earlier in 2008, there was a gruesome acid attack on teenage girls in Warangal city. The three young accused were killed in similar encounter. People queued up to offer flowers and appreciation.

It's unbelievable that around ten or more armed police officers could not secure their arms from four accused in custody and were pushed into a situation to resort to killing them to survive! With the past experience police could have handcuffed the accused. Its simple common sense question; 'did police have no handcuffs?'

Fast track court, faster execution!

In response to overwhelming protests and anger of the people, the CM of Telangana ordered for institution of fast track court to try this rape-murder case, which got administrative sanction of the High Court. As police officer rendered fastest 'justice' the fast track court became infructuous. The police have fooled the Government and the Judiciary. The police officer is the investigator, prosecutor, trying judge, jailer and hangman! With this gun stroke, the police have made constitutional government, law, courts, investigation and jails useless and irrelevant. Do we need the judges and the jails? Chief Justice of India Bobde rightly said, 'justice loses character when it becomes revenge'. Whether the crazy mob understand this reality?

Two Rape cases and killings

The accused in Disha of Telangana were killed in so-called Encounter, while in custody. In contrast, the rape victim in Unnao was stabbed, set ablaze by accused on bail in Uttar Pradesh, while on her way to court. She ran one kilometre like a fire ball, herself called police. After she got shifted to Delhi hospital she died. Though in both the cases rapists were arrested, accused in Telangana faced trigger track justice, and in UP they were let loose with bail or perhaps with support of authorities. If the Disha rape accused are poor, uneducated lorry cleaners, Unnao criminals are affluent and influencing brothers. The two incidents in a span of 48 hours of 5-6 December 2019 reflect that economic status and political connections influence the justice in India. Both incidents show how law is broken and victims are left to their fate or to corrupt system.

The FIR reveals repeated cheatings and rapes of Unnao victim. Rapist Shivam Trivedi lured her with false love and marriage promise, to sexually assault her, kept her sex slave for some days. She was beaten up and raped for just looking out of the house. Though threatened to rape again if complained to police, she dared to file FIRs. On January 19, 2018, she confronted Shivam and asked why not marry as promised. Shivam took her to a Rae Bareli court and prepared a marriage contract, only to cheat again. This time she was threatened with killing of parents, she took refuge of her aunt. Accused found out her and reached on December 12, 2018, repeated the promise-game, this time before a temple. FIR says that accused called his brother Shubham on the way. This time it was gang rape at his friend's house on gun point.

Rape of Disha was hatched on seeing the veterinary doctor parking her scooter near truck, in which the accused were boozing. Ghastly crime was facilitated by systemic lapses like an unchecked truck, illegal parking, public boozing, etc.

In both cases police initially refused to register the case. Only after the intervention of the court, an FIR was lodged in Unnao. In Telangana, by the time FIR was registered, victim was killed. The National Commission of women said that Telangana Police have humiliated girl's parents by saying that their girl might have eloped, when they asked about the police, about their missing girl. Disha's father alleged that the police did not respond appropriately while they were searching for her. When a Minister went to his house, he told "The police didn't respond properly. I had to go to the spot and search for my daughter, to see whether she was alive or not," while the mother alleged that the police made them round-around citing jurisdiction. In the entire process police have committed several crimes, non-registration of case, negligence in duty, inaction and finally the killing of rapist/murderers in the name of encounter. If encounter proved to be fake, it would be terrible murder by police.

Social Media users approve!

Users of facebook are hailing instant justice with thousands of likes and emoticons. Twitter teachers praising Telangana rulers and police as Heroes of Indian Justice system, which other states and nation should follow. In our Criminal Justice System, capital punishment is not abolished, hence it is legally possible to eliminate the criminals like accused in Disha or Nirbhaya cases. In democracy the people are real judges. But it does not mean that executions can happen through police bullets with such mob-approval or mob-lynching.

If at all mob wants such quick justice, what should happen to the thousands of rape cases pending today? The National Crime Records Bureau's (NCRB) National Crime Report says in 2017 out of 46,984 registered rape cases, in 5,855 cases accused were convicted. This means 86.6% rape charge-sheets could not be proved. The conviction rate is a mere 32.2%. As per NCRB, by the end of 2017, there were 14,406 pending rape cases for investigation in the country. While 1,012 claims were dismissed due to insufficient evidence, 30 cases were abated during the investigation.

The general conviction rate in India is around 45%. China recorded 99.9 percent, Japan and Canada 97%, while US recorded around 93%. In two thirds of rape cases prosecution was not successful. It is difficult to say that all convicted are true rapists and all acquitted were innocent. There are umpteen number of false charges in rape cases.

If trigger is the route of justice, in every city the police commissioner should be given additional duties of the Chief Metropolitan Judge, to endorse the evidence produced by TVs and social media and give a direction to an armed police officer to kill the accused in 'encounter'. It is trial by police, prosecution by sensational media, charged by senseless social media based on emotions, very less on evidence. The police showed their valour and skill in killing those in custody, thus surpassed a Rajnikanth of celluloid world where only hero will do complete, meticulous justice through beatings and killing, while all young and old, strong or weak, watch the hero with admiration, while the dozens of henchmen of villain sacrifice their lives with great commitment to cause.

Ambedkar probably could not understand in those primitive days of Constitution-making around 70 years ago, that speedy justice is possible as proved by the team of Cyberabad police. Otherwise, he would have incorporated it in the Constitution as the Rajnikanth clause!

If they have any respect for rule of law, the Hyderabad Police must prove that killing of four accused in custody was a real encounter, if not, should face the punishment under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code in an ordinary trial. Are they ready?

M Sridhar Acharyulu, Former Central Information Commissioner, and Professor at Bennett University.

[The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of LiveLaw and LiveLaw does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same] 

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