Authored by - Hemant Kumar
Keywords - Encounter, Vikas Dubey, NHRC, SC
This article deals with the recent encounters and guidelines given by NHRC and the Supreme Court. A brief description of acts and sections related to encounter are discussed in this article. The reader will become aware of all the current information on the recent encounters. This article also aims to suggest certain solutions to solve the problem of encounters and ensure that due process of the law is followed.
When an accused is killed in action by the police, we can term that as extrajudicial killing or “Encounter”. The police have been given free hand to encounter only in two cases:
1.) Right to Private Defence, and
2.) “Section 46, Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC) where the accused forcibly resists the endeavour to arrest, or attempts to evade the arrest, the police officer may use all means necessary to effect the arrest, if the person is accused of the crime for which punishment is the death penalty or life imprisonment he can also use force, extending upto cause of death”.
The police involved in the encounter case have some guidelines that need to be followed by both the NHRC and the Supreme Court also:
NHRC Guidelines (Venkatachaliah 1997):
· When the police officer in charge of a Police Station receives information about the deaths in an encounter between the Police party and others, he shall enter that information in the appropriate register.
· The information as received shall be regarded as sufficient to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence and immediate steps should be taken to investigate the facts and circumstances leading to the death to ascertain what, if any, offence was committed and by whom.
· If the police officers belonging to the same Police Station, who are members of the encounter party, it is appropriate that the cases are handed over for investigation to some other independent investigation agency, such as State CID.
· The question of granting compensation to the dependents of the deceased may be considered in cases ending in a conviction, that is, if police officers are prosecuted based on the results of the investigation.
Why encounters and why are common people favoring these acts of the police?
India is a vast country where there are piles of cases in each court. Most of the accused wander freely, keep doing notorious acts and get bail easily either by loopholes or through bribes. Yes, proceedings take time where every facts and circumstances of the case are discussed in detail but this only done so that no innocent person has to suffer the harsh punishments. It is well stated that “justice delayed is justice denied”; people have anguish that culprits are wandering freely. The cases against culprits keep on increasing yet it does not affect them whatsoever, but justice is never served to the common people. That is why the term encounters by police are described as bold acts to curb or to create deterrence in the minds of the goons so that crime could be stopped altogether.
Recently three acts have come before us of extrajudicial killings. Let us study them in detail:
· Vikas Dubey: Accused in 62 cases including the killing of Santosh Shukla and killing of eight policemen. When UP police who have half of India’s encounter cases in their state, was coming to the native place with Vikas Dubey, they mysteriously encountered him stating that the car overturned and the media personal following the car were stopped half a km before the incident. He had also contested in elections and had links with the police officials along with some of the renowned politicians.
· Priyanka Reddy: Four accused in the rape of Doctor Priyanka Reddy were killed in an encounter by the Telangana police. It was stated that they were trying to escape when on route to the Court for hearing. They were not handcuffed and were killed in dark. Numerous people across the different states applauded the act and celebrated the brave police who killed the culprits of such aheinous crime.
· Raja Man Singh: The person belonging to the family of Rajasthan Royal was killed by the police 35 years ago when he got in a clash with a political leader over his party flag. Eleven policemen were convicted by the court after 35 years of fake encounter.
All three cases look similar where the accused were killed in action of police where it was stated that the police were attacked by the accused and they were exercising their Right to Private Defence.
An alternate solution to this situation:
The cases could have been handled by following the due process of law so that all the links can be established. Through this, none of the accused would be leniently spared from the punishment. Following the procedure established by the law, every accused has rights that are necessary for them so that no innocent suffers.
Police have been given the role to maintain the law and order of the country. They must follow the guidelines given to them at every cost. We have seen in the Raja Man Singh’s case how the policemen have been convicted of the fake encounter. After investigation, the verdict is declared and justice is served. It can take time but the policemen who have acted wrongly will not be spared.
Joint steps should be taken by the legislature and judiciary:
· Build faith and trust among the common people regarding the judiciary.
· More Fast track courts.
· Proper police training.
· Curb corruption by enhancing the salary of police personal.
· Increase police and judges ratio to the population.
· More freedom to the media.
· Enhanced working conditions for police.
Supreme Court framed guidelines in “encounter” cases in People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. State of Maharashtra (LODHA n.d.)(2014)
· Writing of intelligence regarding criminal movement is some form (Case Diary/ Electronic).
· If firearms used and encounter takes place, FIR shall be registered and forwarded to the Court under Sec. 157 without delay.
· CID should investigate and not the same police station.
· A Magisterial inquiry under Section 176 of the CRPC Information to NHRC and State Human Rights Commission without delay.
Extrajudicial killings are a threat to humankind which snatches the rights of the accused given by the Constitution of India. Police are to maintain order and not give justice by themselves. They must adhere to their duties and keep in mind that they are there to protect the people and not to threaten them. Proper proceedings and fair inquiry can build faith and trust among the people again.
 The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973  Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, On Cases of Encounters Death, https://nhrc.nic.in/sites/default/files/CasesOfEncounterDeaths.pdf, Page No. 34  R.M. Lodha, People'S Union For Civil ... vs State Of Maharashtra & Ors on 23 September, 2014, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/25812914/#:~:text=In%20the%20three%20writ%20petitions,1995%20and%201997%20was%20raised The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
 The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973