New Delhi: Police officials involved in encounter killings shall not be rewarded till their gallantry is established beyond doubt, the Supreme Court held today while framing a slew of guidelines including mandatory magisterial inquiry into such incidents.
Expressing concern that no guidelines are in place in the country, the apex court said certain procedure needs to followed in such cases to "bring to justice the perpetrators of the crime who take law in their own hands" and "to restore faith of the people in police force".
A bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha said cases of death in police encounters continue to occur in spite of constitutional provisions for safeguarding the personal liberty and life of a citizen and directed that a magisterial inquiry must invariably be held in all cases of death in police encounter and a report thereof must be sent to judicial magistrate.
"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/recommended only when the gallantry of the concerned officers is established beyond doubt," the bench said, adding in such cases any intelligence or tip-off regarding criminal movements shall be reduced into writing or in some electronic form.
"An independent investigation into the incident/encounter shall be conducted 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)," the bench, also including Justice RF Nariman, said adding "In a society governed by rule of law, it is imperative that extra-judicial killings are properly and independently investigated so that justice may be done".
The apex court said there should be no delay in sending FIR, diary entries, panchnamas, sketch, etc., to the concerned court and the concerned police officer(s) must surrender his/her weapons for forensic and ballistic analysis as required by the investigating team.
"If on the conclusion of investigation the materials/evidence having come on record show that death had occurred by use of firearm amounting to offence under the IPC, disciplinary action against such officer must be promptly initiated and he be placed under suspension," it said.
The bench said six monthly statements of all cases where deaths have occurred in police firing must be sent to NHRC by DGPs and allowed victim's family to file complaint to the sessions judge if the guidelines framed by it is not followed.
"In India, unfortunately, such structured guidelines and procedures are not in place where police is involved in shooting and death of the subject occurs in such shooting.
"We are of the opinion that it is the constitutional duty of this court to put in place certain guidelines adherence to which would help in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the crime who take law in their own hands," it said.
The court passed the judgement on a plea filed by an NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties for framing guidelines in encounter cases alleging that 99 encounters took place in Mumbai resulting in death of about 135 persons between 1995 and 1997.
"We are not oblivious of the fact that police in India has to perform a difficult and delicate task, particularly, when many hardcore criminals like extremists, terrorists, drug peddlers, smugglers who have organized gangs, have taken strong roots in the society but then such criminals must be dealt with by the police in an efficient and effective manner so as to bring them to justice by following rule of law," it said.
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Updated Date: Sep 23, 2014 19:36:53 IST