Justice, revenge, murder or part of larger conspiracy?
The news on July 9 regarding the arrest of the gangster and then news of his encounter on July 19 has raised some serious questions. I am having perplexed thoughts as a citizen of this country- what should be my reaction?
Eight policemen including an officer of DSP rank were killed in the intervening night of July 2-3 when they went to arrest the gangster in a case of attempted murder, after which he went absconding. Police shot dead two suspects within four hours of the incident. The authorities demolished the gangster’s home in Bikru village and destroyed his vehicles. Station officer Vinay Tiwari and inspector KK Sharma were suspended and arrested after their call detail records confirmed their conversation with the gangster. Police then killed gangster’s allies in an alleged encounter. Fifty teams of police and Special Task Force (STF) were deployed to search for the gangster and a bounty of Rs 5 lakh was announced for information on Vikas Dubey. He revealed himself outside Mahakaal temple in Indore and got himself arrested. MP police claimed that they got him arrested and then Vikas was handed over to the UP STF in the night without producing him before the local magistrate. The vehicle in which Dubey was being brought to Kanpur reportedly overturned and he was killed while trying to flee on July 10.
Anger leads to revenge and revenge is never justice. The action of police shows that they had extreme anger for they were attacked. The ego of the police was hurt and they were out aggressively to avenge the martyred policemen. What happens to such extensive police action when a common man is killed/ troubled by such gangsters? If police decide today to work in an efficient manner with honesty less crime would be guaranteed, but in reality most of these police personnel are either behind a crime or take it as an opportunity for personal gratification but when a criminal targets them then they show what they are actually capable of doing. This statement is not against every single police official, but then there is generality and exceptions.
Our country is governed by rule of law and there is a well established justice delivery system which is strictly governed by the laws. In the Dubey case no rule prescribed by the law of land has been followed. To deliver justice is the job of the court and to execute the same is the job of police or administration.
The Supreme Court is conscious of the misuse of power of police and has also made some observations laying down precedents as in Inder Singh v. State of Punjab (1995) where it stated, “This Court has in recent times come across far too many instances where the police have acted not to uphold the law and protect the citizen but in aid of a private cause and to oppress the citizen. It is a trend that bodes ill for the country and it must be promptly checked…” In Om Prakash v. State of Jharkhand (2012) the SC stated, “It is not the duty of the police officers to kill the accused merely because he is a dreaded criminal. Undoubtedly, the police have to arrest the accused and put them up for trial. This Court has repeatedly admonished trigger-happy police personnel, who liquidate criminals and project the incident as an encounter. Such killings must be deprecated. They are not recognised as legal by our criminal justice administration system. They amount to State-sponsored terrorism…”
Even Ajmal Kasab, the terrorist, was given full trial. Incident of killing gangsters in an encounter concludes that UP police and administration have no faith in the judiciary. There could possibly be another theory. It has been revealed during investigation that the gangster had political connections in almost every political party. The fact that he was tipped off regarding police action at his house in his village is res-ipsa loquitor that he had connections in the Police force also. The place of incidence – his house where he allegedly killed 8 policemen was the scene of crime which was brought down the very next day and the entire scene of crime has been distorted which is unprecedented. It could possibly be done to eliminate some evidence from the scene of crime. The way Dubey was prevented from speaking and his allies were killed and finally he was killed, all the links leading to powerful people in the police, administration and politics has been cut. For an inquisitive mind, circumstances here force one to see it as a possibility of part of larger conspiracy shielding some unknown powerful persons in the system.
The act of criminals/ gangsters/ terrorists all are cowardly acts and their actions can never be compared with the brave soldiers, police officials etc. who are serving the country at the peril of their lives, but in this case, cowardly act of the gangster killing eight police officials had led to serious flaws in the police system itself, highlighting moles within the family, but killing a criminal who has either been arrested or surrendered is definitely not an act of bravery. Police in the case acted more like a gangster and the entire series of this event looked more like a gang-war. Police is a disciplined force which should act within the boundaries of law and their endeavour should be to uphold the Constitution of Indian and the rule of law. Police under no circumstance can act upon sentiments.
Constitution guarantees certain rights to individual and citizen of the country which provides protection of life, liberty, freedom of speech and expression etc. It does not provide for any differential treatment of accused persons. Life and liberty of any person can be taken but only by following due process of law. Taking away the life of an arrested accused is sheer violation of his fundamental rights. No law provides for taking away life of an accused person without proving him guilty with due procedure of law.
Some people argue that powerful gangsters get away from trial and this is the only justified way to deal with them. I would say then it is the lapse in the prosecution and encounter cannot be a justification for lapse of prosecution to get an accused convicted. Job of police was to protect the accused in their custody, Section 55-A Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 says, “It shall be the duty of the person having the custody of an accused to take reasonable care of the health and safety of the accused.” The contrary was done and the accused was killed in an alleged encounter after he was arrested. The action of police killing the accused gangster in alleged encounters is not only murder of the accused but is murder of rule of law. There is no sympathy with the dead gangsters, but they should have been put to trail and hanged and a message of justice should have been sent, as was done in Nirbhaya and Kasab cases. Sole concern here is about, the death of rule of law along with death of constitutional guarantee.
We should celebrate the death of the gangsters involved in killing of eight brave policemen but simultaneously we should mourn the death of rule of law and the constitutional guarantee of fundamental rights. The mind is disturbed and is perplexed as to weigh and choose between celebration and mourning. My evaluation is tilting towards mourning as death of rule of law and constitutional guarantee has to have more weight than death of any gangster/ terrorist/ culprit.
(The writer is an advocate on record in the Supreme Court of India. Views expressed are personal)
Wednesday, 15 July 2020 | Tungesh Pandey
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