'PUCL cherry-picked encounter deaths to suit narrative'

'PUCL cherry-picked encounter deaths to suit narrative'

The Supreme Court. DH file photo

The Uttar Pradesh government has defended before the Supreme Court the police action against criminals, saying that out of 48 people 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 (PUCL), which filed a PIL seeking a court-monitored SIT probe into the killings, “arbitrarily cherry-picked” 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 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 majority and 18 to the minority community, it claimed.

“Hardened criminals wanted in a number of serious cases roaming freely is antithetic to 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 such 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 “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 the State of Maharashtra' (2014).

'Administrative liquidation'

On Friday, taking the affidavit into the record, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph allowed PUCL, represented by advocate Sanjay Parikh, to file a rejoinder within two weeks.

The petitioner claimed that about 1,100 encounters have taken place in the last year 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.

The court had earlier refused to seek a report from the NHRC as the petitioner claimed the rights body had already taken note of alleged statements of Chief Minister Adityanath on the encounters in the state.