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Laws For Encounter: Check What Supreme Court And NHRC Guidelines Say

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Laws For Encounter: Check What Supreme Court And NHRC Guidelines Say

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh Police’s encounter on Thursday in Jhansi in which gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmad’s son Asad and an accomplice, both wanted in the Umesh Pal murder case, were killed has raised questions on the law for encounters in India. Killings in police encounters affect the credibility of rule of law and the administration of the criminal justice system, the Supreme Court had said in a 2014 judgment while issuing a slew of guidelines to be followed in matters of investigating police encounters which have led to death or To install grievous injury.

Here are the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court of India:

The top court says whenever police receive any intelligence or tip-off regarding criminal movements or activities of the commission of a serious criminal offence, it shall be reduced to writing in some form (preferably into case diary) or some electronic form.

If any person is killed in police action, a criminal FIR should be lodged with immediate effect against the policemen involved in the action.

It had said 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).

It had said the team conducting inquiry/investigation shall, at a minimum, seek to identify the victim, recover and preserve evidentiary material including blood-stained earth, hair, fibers and threads etc related to the death, identify scene witnesses and obtain their statements (including the statements of police personnel involved) and determine the cause, manner, location and time of death as well as any pattern or practice that may have brought about the death.

The top court said a magisterial inquiry under section 176 of the CrPC must invariably be held in all cases of death which occur in the course of police firing and a report thereof must be sent to the judicial magistrate having jurisdiction under section 190 of the code.

It said the involvement of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is not necessary unless there is serious doubt about the independent and impartial investigation.

The information of the incident, without any delay, must be sent to the NHRC or the State Human Rights Commission, as the case may be.

The injured criminal/victim, it said, should be provided medical aid and his or her statement be recorded by a magistrate or medical officer with a certificate of fitness.

In the event of death, the next of kin of the alleged criminal/victim must be informed at the earliest.

The SC guidelines said if the conclusion of investigation, the material or evidence having come on record show that death had occurred by use of firearm amounting to offense under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), disciplinary action against such officer must be promptly initiated and he be placed under suspension.

The court said as regards compensation to be granted to the dependents of the victim, who suffered death in a police encounter, the scheme provided under section 357-A of the CrPC must be applied.

The top court had also said no out-of-turn promotion or instant gallantry rewards shall be bestowed on the officers concerned soon after the occurrence of the encounter and it must be ensured at all costs that such rewards are given/recommended only when the gallantry of the officers is established beyond doubt.

NHRC Guidelines on Police Encounters:

As soon as the police station under the jurisdiction of the encounter receives the information about the incident, an FIR should be registered immediately keeping every aspect in mind, if the FIR is not registered immediately, then the police officer of the concerned police station will be directly responsible for it.

Every fact and circumstance related to the death of the accused should be noted and immediate steps should be taken in this regard.

The Human Rights Commission says, since the police itself is the first party in this case, the incident should be investigated by the state’s independent investigative agency CID.

The Human Rights Commission has directed that the investigation of the encounter should be completed within four months and if the police officers are found guilty in this investigation, they should be treated as criminals and prosecuted for murder.

The Human Rights Commission says, the magisterial inquiry into the encounter should be completed in three months. It is the duty of the police to inform the relatives of the deceased after the incident.

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