Encounters deaths in UP require 'close examination': SC

Encounters deaths in UP require 'close examination': SC

The Supreme Court on Monday said the matter pertaining to encounter killings in Uttar Pradesh required a "close and serious" examination. PTI file photo

The Supreme Court on Monday said the matter pertaining to encounter killings in Uttar Pradesh required a "close and serious" examination.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjay Kishan Kaul put a writ petition filed by NGO, 'People's Union for Civil Liberties' for a court-monitored SIT probe into the deaths, for consideration on February 12.

The court issued a formal notice to the state government as advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for an intervenor, made a plea to seek a status report from the National Human Rights Commission which had examined some of the deaths.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, maintained that the state had followed the mandate of the apex court given in the 'PUCL Vs State of Maharashtra' 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 Yogi Adityanath led BJP government came to power, 30 belonged to the majority community.

It maintained the People's Union for Civil Liberties which filed a PIL seeking a court-monitored SIT probe into the killings, “arbitrarily cherry-picked” some of the cases to make a “false and malicious” claim that the members of the 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 counteraction, 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.

“Hardened criminals wanted in a number of serious cases roaming freely is antithetic to the preservation of rule of law and the police is performing its constitutional duty and during the discharge of their work, if some criminals reacted violently and used firearms in circumstances the police had to act in self-defence,” the state government said.

It claimed the petitioner-organisation filed the petition “merely to create prejudice and for publicity” without conducting any due diligence and verifying facts. The petitioner solely relied upon on “certain baseless” news reports and statistics to suit “their narrative” in “an attempt to scandalise” the action taken in order to maintain the law and order.

Maintaining that there were no justifiable reasons for the petitioner to approach the top court, bypassing jurisdiction of the high court, the Yogi government asserted maintaining law and order was its duty and it had followed the process of “appropriate administrative checks and magisterial review” as mandated by the Supreme Court in 'PUCL vs State of Maharashtra' (2014).

The petitioner, led by advocate Sanjay Parikh, 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.