People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the encounters of Vikas Dubey and his associates Amar Dubey and Prabhat Mishra. This occurred in the aftermath of Vikas Dubey killing eight Uttar Pradesh policemen who had gone to arrest him.
PUCL has also sought a constitution of a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge to enquire into the encounters that have been taking place in the State of Uttar Pradesh and the “Criminal Political nexus, which has been prevailing”, in the State. The plea also alleges violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment in People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. State of Maharashtra in which the court had laid down the standard procedure to be followed in matters of investigating police encounters in the case of death.
As per the application, filed through Advocate Aparna Bhat, referring to media reports, Vikas Dubey was being escorted to Kanpur from Ujjain, where he was arrested near Mahakal temple. During the transit from Ujjain to Kanpur, one of the police vehicles overturned near Bhaunti. The accused and the policemen got injured in the accident.
“According to the police, quoting Kanpur SP (West), the deceased Dubey took advantage of the road accident and tried to flee after snatching a pistol of an injured policeman. The police surrounded him from all four sides and tried to make him surrender, but he fired at them. In self-defence, police fired two bullets at Dubey, injuring him. Dubey had fired at the police team with an “intent to kill,” according to the police. Post this, a stretcher bearing Dubey, with blood stains on his chest was later taken inside a hospital, where he was declared dead”, the application states.
Regarding the encounter of his associate Amar Dubey, the application states that after receiving inputs that he was spotted at Artara village under Maudaha police station, a police team rushed to the spot. According to the police version, on seeing them, the assailants opened fire. In retaliation, the police also fired in which Amar Dubey got injured. Two cops – an inspector-rank officer and a constable – also sustained bullet injuries. All injured persons were rushed to the hospital where doctors declared Amar Dubey dead, said the SP.
Further, the application avers that according to the Police Stories, Prabhat Mishra snatched the pistol of a police officer and fired from it while on his way to Kanpur on transit remand. Addressing a press conference, a senior police official said that Kartik alias Prabhat Mishra, was a wanted criminal and was arrested from Faridabad on July 8.
“That the police version of the encounter raises many serious questions, in particular, whether they are simple administrative liquidations”, the PUCL states.
PUCL asserts that police encounter/administrative liquidation is a serious crime- murder/culpable homicide and is an offence against the entire society. It adds if such a crime is committed with the support of the State or where the State condones such an offence, it takes a very serious dimension, questioning the entire Rule of Law and governance in accordance with the Constitution
“The incidents, which have been revealed in the killings of the Vikas Dubey and his associates, are very shocking in particular, keeping in view continuous cases of mass encounters in the State of UP which have taken place from January 1, 2017 onwards”, the PUCL states.
The present application has been filed in already pending Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that was filed in 2018 by the PUCL questioning the encounters which had taken place in the State of Uttar Pradesh from January 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 and which have continued thereafter. The PIL had stated that more than 1000 encounters had taken place resulting in the death of 49 persons and injuries to 370 during the said period.
As per the PUCL’s plea, during the pendency of the petition before the Supreme Court, the number of encounters increased to 2000 and deaths to 66. The number has increased to 5178 encounters in which 103 persons have been killed and 1859 have been injured in 2019.
In the said PIL, the PUCL had mentioned not only the number of encounters that had taken place during the present regime in UP but also the reaction/ response of the Chief Minister and the Police Officials favouring encounters. An independent investigation by the CBI or SIT comprising Police Officers of integrity and who have not served in the State of Uttar Pradesh was sought for.
Additionally, it was prayed that a Monitoring Committee, headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge should enquire into the role played by all authorities/persons who have directly or indirectly supported the encounter killings by abdicating their legal duties and responsibilities.
The Supreme Court had though issued notice to the UP Government on a PIL in 2018, no effective orders passed by it and the same is still for adjudication.