In light of media reports that the four people accused of the rape and murder of the veterinarian doctor in Hyderabad have been killed in a police encounter, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has decided to take suo motu cognisance of the same. It was informed through a statement issued on their website that NHRC has taken note of the facts that have emerged and passed orders for a spot inquiry by its investigation team.
The statement highlights the facts that have come out through media reports and expressed its concern that the matter required to be probed very carefully.
"(The accused) have died in an encounter with the police at 3:00 AM this morning. As per reports, all four accused, were taken to the scene of the crime around 60 Km from Hyderabad for a re-construction as part of the investigation. Reportedly, as per police version, one of them signaled to the others, possibly to escape and they tried to snatch weapons from the police personnel when the police fired on them and they died allegedly in cross firing."
NHRC has asked the Director General of the Investigation Division of the Commission to send a team, headed by an SSP to leave for the spot immediately, find facts and submit its report at the earliest. It was further informed that NHRC has sought detailed reports from "all state governments, police heads as well as from the Union Ministry of Women & Child Development" after having "taken cognisance of the increasing cases of rapes and sexual assault on women across the country".
NHRC also noted that though the accused had been arrested during investigation, a court of law had not passed a judgment yet. If they were to be found guilty, they would have been punished in accordance with the law, "pursuant to the directions of the competent court."
Expressing that the "death of four persons in alleged encounter with the police personnel when they were in their custody" was a matter of great concern, the Commission also noted that the manner in which the encounter took place indicates that the police officials were not alert and unprepared for any untoward activity by the accused.
Alluding to the public outrage regarding the increasing crimes against women, the commission acknowledged the atmosphere of fear and anger, but cautioned that "loss of human lives even of a person arrested by the police under law, in such circumstances, would definitely give a wrong message to the society."
Referring to the Constitution of India, the commission invoked the right to life and equality, and urged law enforcement agencies to keep the human rights angle in mind while dealing with persons in their custody.
"The Commission has already expressed its view that there is lack of "Standard Operating Procedure" to immediately respond to the panic situations by the police authorities. The Commission has been insisting upon all law enforcing agencies to keep human rights angle in their view while dealing with the persons arrested by them or being kept in their custody. The right to life and equality before law are the basic human rights recognized and granted by the Constitution of India."