Police Encounters are also referred to as extrajudicial killing. The defense given by Police to justify such encounters is that it was done or carried out in their own self defense. The defense of encounter killing is only available to Police. On the contrary private defense is available to all citizens to confront with situations of grave danger to their life. Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1960 contains provisions related to private defense (Sections 96 to 100).
In Prakash Kadam vs Ramprasad Vishwanath Gupta AIR 2011, the Supreme Court held, “Fake encounters by Police are nothing but cold-blooded murders, and those committing them must be given death sentences, placing them in the category of rarest of the rare cases”.
Over the years there have been many instances when such encounters were done by the Police. Recently, in Hyderabad 4 rapist were shot dead on the crime scene. The Police justified their act by stating that it was done to safeguard their own life as they were attacked by them. Also, in PUCL vs State of Maharashtra AIR 2014 the Mumbai Police encountered 135 alleged criminals between 1995- 1997. Following which the Supreme Court laid down guideline and standard procedure to investigate a Police encounter. The Guidelines which were laid down are as follows:
- Whenever any Police Department receives any substantial information or tip regarding any grave criminal offence it must always be recorded in written or electronic form. Although it must not contain the details of the alleged accused or his/her location.
- Investigations of such encounters should be done in a transparent manner. It could be done by an independent Criminal Investigation Department (CID) team or by a team of another Police station under the supervision of Senior Officer.
- Reports of all such encounters must without any delays should be sent to a Judicial Magistrate.
- It is the duty of Police officers to inform National or State Human Right Commissions as the case may of any such encounters.
- In such cases of encounters there should be no delay in sending First Information Report (FIR), panchnamas, and Police diary entries to the concerned court for investigation.
- The dependants of the accused/ criminal must be informed immediately of such encounter.
- In such cases of encounters a request for grant of compensation to the dependents of victim must applied as per the provisions of Section 137-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- The Police officers who was involved in such encounters must surrender their weapon for forensic and ballistic examination.
- No promotional or gallantry awards must be given to the Police officers immediately after such encounters.
- If the dependents of the accused/criminal thinks fit that the above laid procedure has not been followed then they can file a complaint with the Sessions Judge.
National Human Rights Commission former Chairman Justice M. N. Venkatachaliah said that, “there is lack of standing operating procedure when it comes to response by Police in panic situations”. The need of the hour is to train the Police personnel in such manner that they can deal with every dreadful situation. Police officers are known to be the guardian of law. If they take law in their own hands and mould it accordingly then the purpose of them being the guardian of law will not suffice.
The Indian Lawyer