Magisterial inquiry must for all police encounters: SC

Magisterial inquiry must for all police encounters: SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a 16-point guideline on police encounters, which includes mandatory magisterial inquiry into the incident and prompt delivery of FIR, diary entries and sketch to the concerned court.

Viewing the statistics on fake encounters with suspicion, the court also said that the figure provided by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) “raises doubts about its correctness” as they reported only two such incidents across the country last year.

Emphasising that killings in police encounters affect the credibility of rule of law and administration of criminal justice system, the court said there are “unfortunately” no structured guidelines in place where deaths occur in encounters.

It wanted to put in place certain guidelines, which would help in restoring people’s faith in police and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the crime who take law in their own hands, said the bench of Chief Justice of India R M Lodha and Justice R F Nariman.

“No out-of-turn promotion or instant gallantry rewards shall be bestowed on the concerned officers soon after the occurrence. It must be ensured at all costs that such rewards are given or recommended only when the gallantry of the concerned officers is established beyond doubt,” it said. A policeman found guilty in investigation should be placed under suspension.

The investigation into encounters has to be done by the CID or police team of another police station under the supervision of a senior officer, at least a level above the head of the police party engaged in the encounter. It should be ensured that there is no delay in sending FIR, diary entries, sketch and other details to the court concerned, the bench said.

The court felt that in spite of constitutional and statutory provisions aimed at safeguarding personal liberty and life of a citizen, the cases of death in police encounters continue to occur. It insisted that a magisterial inquiry must invariably be held in all cases of death, which occur in the course of police firing.

With the police claiming that they received inputs about movement of criminals before any encounter, the court wanted that all such intelligence inputs should be recorded in some form if not with all details. Giving the rationale for the need for guidelines, the court said it was not oblivious of the fact that police in India has to perform a “difficult and delicate task”.

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