UP encounters: SC asks PUCL to furnish fresh materials

UP encounters: SC asks PUCL to furnish fresh materials

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked People's Union for Civil Liberties to come up with fresh materials to argue its plea for an independent probe into “encounter deaths targetting members of the minority community” in Uttar Pradesh after the Yogi Adityanath government came to power.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna asked advocate Sanjay Parikh to show some additional materials including victims' statement in support of its contention.

As the counsel sought to bring on record as many as nine complaints made to the NHRC and notices having been issued in 17 cases, the bench asked, “If the NHRC was already seized of the matter, should it exercise parallel jurisdiction.”

The court also made it clear to the counsel that his petition was solely based on newspaper reports and complaints made to the NHRC. “Unless you give us some substantial materials, we are not going to rely upon those reports,” the bench told the counsel.

Parikh, for his part, pointed out in the Manipur encounter cases, the top court had appointed an independent panel headed by former SC judge, Justice Santosh Hegde.

The court, at the outset, also observed in view of the present state of affairs in the CBI, it would not want the investigating agency to take up these matters.

The court had on January 14 said the matter pertaining to encounter killings in Uttar Pradesh required a "close and serious" examination.

The state government had maintained that it had followed the mandate of the apex court given in the 'PUCL Vs State of Maharashtra' (2014) with regard to police encounters.

In all such cases, post mortem was conducted and inquiry was undertaken and not a single complaint was made to the district court, he said, adding those killed were facing several criminal cases.

Earlier the Uttar Pradesh government had defended the police action against criminals, saying that out of 48 persons killed in encounters after the BJP government came to power, 30 belonged to the majority community.

It maintained the PUCL which filed a PIL, “arbitrarily cherry-picked” some of the cases to make a “false and malicious” claim that the members of minority community were targetted in those encounters.

It said in police action between March 20, 2017, and March 31, 2018, as many as 3,19,141 accused were arrested and 98,526 had surrendered. In a counter action, 409 accused were injured, 319 police personnel received firearm injuries and four of them lost their lives. Of 48 criminals who died in police action, 30 belonged to the majority and 18 to the minority community, it claimed.

The petitioner claimed that about 1,100 encounters have taken place in 2017 in which about 48 people were killed and 370 others injured. It claimed the incidents of massive administrative liquidations were taking place in the state of Uttar Pradesh in blatant violation of Rule of Law, legal and constitutional protection available to the citizens, in particular, right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The state is violating with impunity the law laid down by this court, it said.