(WE, in India, continue to follow a culture of control and a tendency to govern
Encounter killing is a term used in India and Pakistan, since, the late
20th century to describe extra judicial killings by the police or the armed
forces, supposedly in self-defense when they encounter suspected gangsters or
terrorists, it's a -extrajudicial executions by the police or the army that
allegedly did in self-defense have become increasingly familiar in India and
police created, fake encounters, as opportunities to kill suspects at large',
including in its most populous state, Uttar Pradesh.
The Uttar Pradesh police on 10th July killed 56 year old gangster Vikas Dubey,
with more than 60 criminal cases against him, in an encounter. His Death is
similar to the death that took place in Hyderabad (Unnao rape case
) in December
2019 in Hyderabad encounter victim's father demanded that:
India is moving from
Rule of Law to Rule of Gun
The question that everyone needs to be asked is
that if instances of rape shall come down after this encounter. Another question
which should have been put before the Hyderabad police was:
Why were they not
more diligent and careful while taking the accused to reconstruct the scene of a
crime which had been extremely sensitive and high profile? Had Dubey been put
through the direct judicial process instead of being killed in a so-called
encounter as he was, it is possible that important information about this
dangerous nexus could have been exposed.
If we look at facts we can say that it's a twofold problem:
- It had not even been established that the four killed were actual
perpetrators or if they were made mere fall guy, accused to ward off rising
criticism of police.
- Despite the bravado of the police commissioner, who reportedly has a
past of dubious encounters, the police would not have still acted without
The impact of these enabled police excess action has been felt by those peaceful
protestors in the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), especially in
Uttar Pradesh. According to the report by The Indian Express, Magisterial
Inquiries have been carried out in 74 cases of encounter deaths in Uttar
Pradesh, since 2017. However, the police have, in most of such cases, been
If we look at the Surge of the Encounter in India we can trace it back to the
In R.S. Sodhi versus state of U.P. (W.P. No. 1141 of 1991), Supreme Court of
India observed that in the facts and circumstances presented before it there was
an imperative need of ensuring that the guardians of law and order do in fact
observe the code of discipline expected of them and that they function strictly
as the protectors of innocent citizens.
In 2008, Extra judicial killing took place in Andhra Pradesh in which three
accused throwing acid on the faces of Two women were encountered by the police.
In 2011 in Prakash kadam versus ram Prasad Vishwa case the Supreme Court said
that whenever an extra-judicial execution is proved against policemen in trial,
they must be given the death sentence.
In 2012 in Om Prakash v. State of Jharkhand
held that extra judicial
killings are not legal under our criminal justice administration system and
equated it to state sponsored terrorism.
We can draw the Parallel that the manner in which the accused were taken to the
crime spot for recording the crime scene and later cops shooting them down in a
controlled crossfire which is close to the pop culture that has glorified this
practice and regularly depict scenes in which the policemen protagonist single
handedly kills the villainous criminal in a heroic climax.
Legal Provisions of Encounter In India
The pertinent question that arises here is that in what circumstance a death
in an encounter shall not constitute an offense in India:
- If death is caused in the exercise of self-defense i.e. under Section
- If death is caused under Section -100 IPC or exception 3 of Section 300
- If it's necessary to arrest the accused of an offense punishable with
death or imprisonment for lifeline. Under Section 46 Cr.P.C which authorizes
the police to use force, extending up to the causing death as the case may
- Police officer can kill the criminal for the sole purpose of
self-defense and can't kill the criminal for any mala fide intention
- It's a gross violation of Indian Constitution as every criminal should
have the free and fair trial under Article 14 and Article 21; Encounter is
violating the legal principle of Audi alteram partem.
NHRC laid down the guidelines in 1997 that FIR shall be registered in case of
encounter and court laid down 16 point procedure to be followed in the
investigation of encounter deaths in order to prevent any abuse of power by the
law enforcement agencies. However, in 2010, this guideline was extended by
including Magisterial Inquiry under section 176 Cr.P.C in case of death within
3months and mandatory reporting of all encounter deaths to the commission within
48 hours of happening. A second report within 3 months must also be sent to the
commission under section 190 Cr.P.C which includes a post mortem report,
findings of magisterial inquiry etc.
India is being heavily criticized for not ratifying the
UN Convention against Torture ,and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment (UNCAT) of 1987 despite being the World's largest democracy. The
main concern is violation of rights and lack of transparency as overstepping on
the function of the judiciary is fatal.
Further, even Article-6 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which India is a party
every human being has the inherent right to life, and this right shall be
protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life. The UNHRC,
in many reports, has said that encounters are murders
Encounters have indeed become the common phenomenon of our criminal justice
system, and there are police officers who have earned the title as encounter
specialists. But these encounter deaths raise many questions like : what if
those killed were innocent? What if it leads to abuse of power? What if these
killings tried to remove the influential people involved?
To curb these growing trends, these killings need to be independently
investigated free from police or political interference to fix culpability on
the police officers and end the prevalent culture of impunity. Police reforms
are also needed to sensitize them to function within four corners of the
constitutional responsibility and the rule of law prevails above all. The Indian
criminal system increasingly reflects the idea of-'power' rather than justice
Furthermore, the Supreme Court and the NHRC's guidelines must be strictly
adhered to and followed up by judicial authorities .In a broader perspective,
there is a need for a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system to
rebuild its lost credibility and fast track procedure. And lastly, the media
should avoid labeling extrajudicial killings as heroic acts as it shakes the
faith of people in our criminal system.
The Administrative reforms commission has recommended that political control be
limited to promoting professional efficiency and ensuring that the police
officer is acting under the law. The legal provisions to investigate these
murders need to be strengthened and implemented more seriously.