Extra-Judicial killings: A solution for preventing crime in Adityanath’s UP?

By Amrashaa Singh


The recent killing of the four accused in the Hyderabad veterinary doctor’s rape case created a huge hue and cry across the nation. While some people praised the incident, others pointed out the human rights violations caused by the incident. Many famous personalities, praised it, including Jaya Bachchan, a Rajya Sabha M.P., who said that such people should be publicly ‘lynched’. But everyone praising it probably forgot the fact that the word ‘accused’ was still mentioned in front of their names. They were not convicted for the offence by the constitutionally set up courts of law.

This is one of the many incidents brought to the limelight. According to the data by (National Human Rights Commission) NHRC, since 1993, about 2,560 cases of extra-judicial killings have been reported in the country, out of which 1,224 were found to be fake encounters. It clearly means that every second encounter was fake. Moreover, 1, 782 cases of fake encounters have been registered between 2000 and 2017 and UP accounted for 44.55% of the encounter cases across all the states. This obviously raises many questions for the police force to answer. Further, in the state of Uttar Pradesh alone, according to the data by the UP Government, by January 2018, the police had conducted 1, 038 encounters.  32 people were killed in these encounters and a total of 238 were injured. Further, the current Government has also not taken any strict action against the policemen who conduct these encounters and the Chief Minister has also openly said that “criminals will be jailed or killed in encounters”.

This shows the alarming increase in human rights violations across the state. The statements of the Chief Minister also go against the judgments of the Supreme Court. In the 2012 landmark verdict of the Supreme Court in Om Prakash v. State of Jharkhand, it was held that it is not the duty of the police officers to kill the accused only because he is a dreaded criminal. The duty of the police personnel is to arrest the accused and put them up for trial in front of the court. The court further added that such killings are not recognized by our criminal justice administration and they amount to state-sponsored terrorism. In another Supreme Court judgment, in which the bench was presided over by Justice Katju, it was held that in the cases of fake encounters, the concerned policemen should be given a death sentence. In another Allahabad High Court judgment of State of Uttar Pradesh v. Mohammed Naim, Justice A N Mulla called the Indian Police force a ‘lawless group whose record of crimes is the highest’. These extrajudicial killings/ fake encounters also go against basic constitutional rights. As back as 1979, it was held by the Supreme Court that the speedy trial is an essential ingredient of right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution. The same was observed by the Supreme Court in Moti Lal Saraf v. Union of India where the court said, “concept of fair trial flows directly from Article 21 of the Constitution”.

The general public, without realizing the implications of such extrajudicial killings starts praising such incidents. They do not realise that it was these accused persons today but tomorrow it could be someone from their family as well. There are incidents when this has also happened. The police under pressure of catching the criminal arrests innocent people and frames them. The Ryan school case is a classic example of this where the innocent bus driver was framed for the murder of a 7-year-old child by the Gurugram police. Later, in a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a class 11th student of the same school was held. This shows the lapses in the investigation and arrests made by the police. There are various cases especially from the Western U.P. where many people have been killed in fake encounters and there are many lapses in the story of the police.  There have also been cases where a person was killed only on the basis of mistaken identity. Sometimes, the policemen even conduct such encounters for ‘out of turn promotions.’ The NHRC after seeing such fake encounter incidents issued guidelines in 2010 and the same was reiterated by the Supreme Court in 2014. The court held that no out of turn promotions or instant gallantry awards shall be bestowed on the concerned officers. They should be bestowed with awards when the gallantry is proved beyond doubt.

This trend of extrajudicial killings is extremely worrisome. With witnesses rarely coming forward against the police, the conviction rate of such officers is low. Moreover, with this trend, the police seem to have taken the role of the judge. They decide whether the person has committed the crime and kill them in the fake encounters. Deep reforms are necessary for such conditions. There should be proper enforcement of the Supreme Court guidelines and the guidelines issued by the NHRC. Further, proper judicial inquiry into such killings and proper judicial inquiry should be there and other such steps as laid by the Supreme Court. Otherwise, it would soon become the rule of the gun instead of the rule of law.

[The author is a third-year student at National Law University, Odisha.]



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