Indian Laws Matter: Rising Arbitrary Arrests And Extra-Judicial Killings
Seventy-four years of Independence and still the Raub of Khaki Vardi hasn't
sunk an inch. Lack of legal education has led many Indians to suffer extreme
hardships in the past, and to this day, while you're reading this, someone
somewhere in India is being arrested in a fake case, and someone fears a
fictitious encounter at the hands of merciless police officers.
Arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings aren't new to the Indian winds;
they have been here for a while and have perished the whole Justice System and
crushed the dream of fundamental human rights.
Let's talk about the recent Farmers Protest. In her statement, the director at
Human Rights Watch, South Asia - Meenakshi Ganguly, said
'The Indian authorities' response to protests has focused on discrediting
peaceful protesters, harassing critics of the government, and prosecuting those
reporting on the events.'
And there is a reason why she is making such statements.
A 22-year-old Climate Activist, Disha Ravi, was arrested in the famous tool-kit
case and was released on bail after spending nine days in police custody. The
court stated that the Delhi Police tried to link Disha to the 26 January
violence but could not cite any evidence to back their claim! Further, the court
took note that despite arresting and interrogating over 150 persons for the
incident, the Police could not produce a single piece of evidence against them.
I'm astonished and shocked at the mere audacity of the Police. I mean, how could
you arrest a 22-year girl, put sedition and other heinous charges on her, and
couldn't prove a single damn thing in the court! I mean, don't they fear losing
their jobs!? It couldn't be a simple mistake! They did it intentionally to scare
the protestors! And this wouldn't have been possible if the Police didn't have
political support. And this worsens up the situation. Because now the arbitrary
arrests aren't just a matter of Police not doing their work truthfully, it also
clarifies that the whole system is wrongfully using its powers, and democracy is
And Disha wasn't the only one who suffered an unreasonable and unlawful arrest.
There were hundreds of protesters and journalists arrested, tortured in police
custody, and faced baseless criminal charges. What makes it even more terrifying
is that this was a big protest, having massive media coverage, International
watch, and still, many such incidents happened. Imagine what could happen
without such attention.
This year, a group of 87 former top bureaucrats and police officers have written
an open letter where they expressed their concerns over rising arbitrary
detentions and demanded an end to extra-judicial killings.
In December 2019, Four rape accused were killed in a police encounter for no
justified reasons, and they projected it as something to be proud of; around
2000 people in no time congregated at the place of the incident and started
hailing 'Police Zindabad' and all sorts of slogans; praising them, what they
fail to understand is that there is a justice system. Those were ACCUSED and NOT
PROOVED criminals, and they could've disclosed some concerning facts in the
trial proceedings, and every person has the right to a fair trial, a right to
get heard. Such killings are entirely unacceptable.
Interestingly, the lack of scrutiny of police professionals has made policing
dictatorial, where they are praised for doing something but not blamed for
failing to do it.
The Supreme Court has ruled against extra-judicial killings in many cases, given
the increasing number of such incidents. It even imposed death penalties against
police officers involved in fake encounters. In a 2012 landmark judgment: Om
Prakash v/s State of Jharkhand, the Supreme Court termed these killings
Extra-judicial killings in the shape of fake encounters are an assault on the
Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 14, which allows the right to
equality, and Article 21, which protects life and personal liberty. In fake
encounters, the Police take over the role of the judiciary and the executioner
without providing a fair chance to the accused to be heard at an appropriate
judicial forum, thereby violating the principle of Audi Alteram Partem.
Media reports suggest that killings have rarely been carried out against the
state's most wanted and powerful criminals. Thus, it is clear that encounters
are used as an instrument by the state against the vulnerable sections of
society and maybe to hide their own sins.
On 10 July 2020, Vikas Dubey, a well-known gangster in the state of Uttar
Pradesh (U.P.), was encountered by the Police. The Police claimed that en route
to U.P. from Ujjain, Dubey snatched the pistol from one of the cops and fired on
them. Thus, the Police had to resort to shooting in self-defence. Undoubtedly,
the Police have the right to self-defence. Therefore, if the police account is
valid, the court no longer remains obliged to intervene.
But some of the facts regarding this case open up a strong possibility of it
being a state-sponsored fake encounter, the car in which Dubey was seen sitting
in CCTV footage wasn't the car that got overturned, and no locals witnessed the
accident alleged by the Police. Further, Police encountered many of Dubey's
close associates in a similar way. Dubey had a lengthy criminal record; he was
even accused of murdering a sitting minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh and
was still roaming free for years; this means that he had high-level connections,
and if he were tried in the court, many secrets would have come out and hence
And this doesn't stop at criminals! It has been observed that since May 2017,
half of those killed in encounter killings in the U.P. were Muslims, and the
other half comprised mainly of backward castes.
In People's Union for Civil Liberties v/s State Of Maharashtra, the Supreme
Court strongly condemned the police officers indulging in such atrocious
practices and issued strict guidelines prescribing a procedure for investigating
deaths by encounter. However, the law enforcement agencies were unaffected by
The perpetrators get away with these killings because the Police is
investigating itself, and it does so with a biased approach. In cases where
people in power are involved, the investigation is usually tampered with because
the C.I.D. and other police stations come under the State Government, averting a
The fact that 61 out of 74 magisterial inquiries against U.P Police officers
regarding encounter killings have been filed with a closure report where the
police personnel were acquitted leaves me flabbergasted.
Unfortunately, extra-judicial killings are not new or exclusive to this
government. Governments have always resorted to such things- Bengal in the
1960s, Punjab in the 1980s, recently in Kashmir, in north-eastern states
including Manipur and parts of Central India affected by the Maoist surgency.
U.S. state department says that Over 41,000 cash bounties were paid to Police in
Punjab for extra-judicial killings of Sikhs between 1991 and 1993 alone, and
India has not allowed Amnesty International to conduct an independent human-
rights investigation in Punjab since 1978, and we know why.
In the Urutti Kolai case, the policemen were awarded the death penalty for the
first time in a special C.B.I. court in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram. The
policemen were accused of murdering a 26-year-old in a theft case by using a
heavy rod to torture him during interrogation, resulting in his death. The C.B.I.
held that it was 'brutal and dastardly murder' and categorized it in the rarest
of rare cases.
What I am trying to do is to bring your attention to the severity of this topic.
The system is swallowing your rights day by day. Uncontrolled executives are the
last thing you want in a democracy. It could come to any of us anytime. We need
to raise our voices against it. India badly needs Police Reforms; after all,
Indian Laws matter, Indian Lives Matter!
The world, including Indians, stood up for George Floyd; it's time we realize
the biggest democracy in the world, is facing similar challenges. Allowing
arbitrariness in the Legislative or Executive sector defies the whole purpose of
So, this year when we celebrate the 73rd human rights day, let's join hands
together and pledge to raise voices against Human Rights abuses and
remember Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere.
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