2 Oct 2023 7:54 AM GMT
The PIL petitioner who approached the Supreme Court seeking independent investigation into the police encounter killings in Uttar Pradesh has refuted the statements made by the State in its status report.Advocate Vishal Tiwari, the petitioner, in his rejoinder said, "Encounter killings are often celebrated as achievements by state police officials, further encouraging arbitrary...
The PIL petitioner who approached the Supreme Court seeking independent investigation into the police encounter killings in Uttar Pradesh has refuted the statements made by the State in its status report.
Advocate Vishal Tiwari, the petitioner, in his rejoinder said, "Encounter killings are often celebrated as achievements by state police officials, further encouraging arbitrary and unconstitutional actions. This is evident in the out-of-turn promotions and gallantry awards granted to officers involved in such killings."
Questioning the stand of the State that police encounters were legitimate exercises in self-defence, the petitioner said that the police, as a powerful force, should not resort to excessive or retaliatory force, especially when the opposing party is comparatively weaker.
“Police being a mighty force cannot always resort to the theory of self-defence especially when the opposite party is a minor group with fewer weapons. If the police fire the victim when there is a chance to overpower them without killing it is retaliation. When the State uses such excessive or retaliatory force leading to death, it is referred to as an extra-judicial killing or an extrajudicial execution.”
Advocate Vishal Tiwari in his rejoinder asserted that the State failed to disclose crucial facts accurately and was intentionally misleading the Court. As per the Court's direction on August 11, the State was to give a response regarding the encounter killings about which the petitioner has made a specific mention. Tiwari said that though his writ petition referred to 183 encounter incidents, the State's report is pertaining to only seven incidents. Therefore, he claimed that the State did not fully comply with the court order dated August 11, 2023.
“The respondents have deliberately not given any Status Report or reply to the 183 encounter killings. Many of these encounters might have been fake and no proper compliance of the Guidelines laid down by this Hon Supreme Court have been made," he said. He also said that in January 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Commission expressed alarm regarding the encounter killings in the State of Uttar Pradesh.
He further alleged that the respondent had misinterpreted the Chauhan Commission report as giving a clean chit to the police in respect of the Kanpur/Bikru encounter killings of 2020. While quoting the Chauhan Commission Report, he emphasized that the Commission had clearly expressed that the report had been prepared without any rebuttal against the police version.
He drew attention to the conclusion of the report where the commission found that “In such circumstances, the commission has prepared its report in absence of any iota of evidence in rebuttal of the police version in any of the incidents involved in the Subject matter of inquiry”.
The petitioner in his affidavit submitted that “This finding is sufficient to raise a presumption that the evidence existed but it could not come before the commission and in absence of such evidence it cannot be said that commission has given a clean chit to the State police in Kanpur/Bikru encounter case 2020.”
Concerns about Atiq Ahmed killing
As far as the death of Atiq Ahmed is concerned, he raised 2 important concerns. Firstly, Khalid Azim@Ashraf- Atiq’s brother had filed a criminal miscellaneous writ petition (No. 4003 of 2023) before the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, seeking safety and protection for Ashraf during transit in police custody. Despite the directions issued by the High Court on March 21, 2023, the present status report filed by the Respondent allegedly fails to address this crucial fact or provide an explanation regarding the steps taken by the state to protect Ashraf.
The petitioner argued that had sufficient measures been taken, the tragic incident might have been prevented.
Concerns were raised about the independence of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) conducting the investigation into the deaths of Atiq and Ashraf, as it lacks supervision by a judicial magistrate. The affidavit also highlights a recurring pattern in these encounter killings, where police claim to have received tips from informers, leading to confrontations that result in the use of lethal force.
The petitioner also alleged that the family members are not allowed to register an FIR against the police officials demanding an inquiry into the killings.
The petitioner quoted the Supreme Court's position in Om Prakash and Ors. v. State of Jharkhand (2012) 12 SCC 72, which explicitly stated that encounter killings are unjustified and amount to "state-sponsored terrorism".
A bench led by Justice S Ravindra Bhat will hear the matter tomorrow. Along with Tiwari's PIL, the bench is also hearing a petition filed by Atiq Ahmed’s sister Aisha Noori for a court-monitored probe into the killings of her brothers in April 2023 when they were being taken for medical check-ups in police custody
Case title- Vishal Tiwari v. Union of India| Aisha Noori v. Union of India
Citation: W.P. Crl. 177/2023| W.P. Crl. 280/2023