Encounter cop policy: Centre, Gujarat heads for showdown

Probes into staged extra-judicial killings in Gujarat have typically spilled over into the political field and despite state government demandsthe Centre is reportedly not willing to play ball and formulate a separate policy to shield police officials battling terrorism.

The Centre is likely to sidestep the Gujarat government's desire for a 'national policy' for police officials handling terror related affairs on the grounds that it is a state subject that should be amended as per requirement.

 Encounter cop policy: Centre, Gujarat heads for showdown

Representational image: PTI

"The Home Ministry cannot dictate any such national policy as law and order is a state subject...It is up to each state to come up with its own standard operating procedures," an unnamed official was quoted as saying in the Economic Times.

The Centre is being forced to contemplate the matter after the Gujarat government filed a petition seeking a national policy to protect police officials who handle terror related cases.

The Gujarat government had argued before the apex court that it was being punished for being a state that had a zero tolerance policy against terrorism and it claimed the police force was being targeted by 'vested interest groups'.

The Gujarat government's petition came after the apex court directed a committee to find the 'truth' behind 22 shootout deaths in the state between 2002 and 2006.

According to an Indian Express report, the Gujarat government in its petition said that "while it is easy to be lost in the din of moral outrage against fake encounters, taking a larger and broader picture, a question needs to be debated and answered as to how to evolve a system which necessarily protects honest policemen in uniform and does not demoralise them while they combat the scourge of deadly terrorism/organised crime which has enveloped India in its octopus-like embrace."

The petition also cited the cases of Mumbai and Punjab Police officials who had been feted for extra-judicial killings.

The Gujarat government has perhaps faced the most heat due to extra-judicial killings. As pointed out their petition, the political masters of the police officials in other states have rarely faced any probe for any similar incidents.

In Gujarat on the other hand, both the Chief Minister, and now BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, and his former aide Amit Shah have had close shaves thanks to the CBI investigating staged extra-judicial killings. Whether either is guilty of the crime will be determined by a court of law

The Gujarat government may be right in pointing out that it cannot be victimised despite having the same policies on extra-judicial killings as other states in which they are carried out. However, a national policy on the matter would only legalise a practice that should be dealt with strongly instead of ever having being feted. Instead, state governments merely need to crack down on a process that has no place in society.

 

Updated Date: Jan 23, 2014 13:52:20 IST