Sep 19, 2017
Expressing deep concern at the seeming regularity of encounters in UP, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) draws the attention of the UP state government to Supreme Court and NHRC guidelines, referring to the spate of “encounter deaths” of alleged criminals.
The office of the Director General of Police in Uttar Pradesh has released data between March and September 2017 relating to 420 encounters across the state’s eight zones in a “war” against criminals. About 15 people have been killed, 481 arrests have been made, and 88 police personnel injured. This is exceptionally unusual.
CHRI reminds the state government and UP Police that they are accountable for the deaths caused and arrests made.
“While we recognize the criminal elements the police are up against, the police and political leadership must insist that all policing functions within the law. Without this, we lose the difference between the law and the outlaw,” says Devika Prasad, Coordinator, Police Reforms Programme.
The police have reported that departmental and magisterial inquiries are being conducted after each encounter. However, the state is bound to register a First Information Report and initiate a full criminal investigation into any killing by police in an “encounter”. In 2014, guidelines of the Supreme Court given in PUCL vs. State of Maharashtra require that any killing in an encounter is independently investigated, and no cash or gallantry awards and benefits be given to police personnel for homicide.
Additionally, guidelines of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) mandate that any death resulting from police action is reported with details to the Superintendent of Police within 48 hours, followed by supplementary reports including the post mortem, inquest, magisterial inquiry report and reports on forensics and ballistics experts.
The reasoning behind this is that the police must always be law abiding and not be tempted into excess use of force, abuse of power, or illegality. The state government must strictly comply with both the Supreme Court’s and NHRC guidelines to investigate the 15 killings.
There is little information available on the arrests made, besides the scale. The UP Police is mandated to guarantee that the constitutional rights and legal safeguards of all arrested persons are upheld at every stage. It is solely for the courts to decide whether they are innocent or guilty.
For more information, please contact: Devika Prasad
Coordinator, Police Reforms Programme