Terming it as “worse than cold-blooded murder”, the Supreme Court on Tuesday condemned a section of the security forces who fake encounters to get gallantry awards and out-of-turn promotions.
“Just for getting gallantry awards innocent people are termed as terrorists and killed in fake encounters in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East. It’s worse than cold-blooded murder,” Justice Aftab Alam said during the hearing of self-proclaimed godman Swami Shraddhananda’s appeal against a Karnataka High Court verdict confirming his death penalty.
The court was hearing arguments of Karnataka’s counsel Sanjay Hegde, who wanted the court to grant him death penalty. Hegde said the case fell within the category of ‘rarest of rare’ cases, as it was a pre-planned cold-blooded murder to get monetary benefit. Responding to Hegde's arguments, Justice Alam said: “Even fake encounters are pre-meditated…the whole thing is devilishly planned.”
Justice GS Singhvi, another Judge on the three-judge bench, supported Justice Alam's remarks, saying this was happening throughout the country and even the police personnel were guilty of it in nexus with Naxals. “In the so called encounters justification offered by police on Naxals is that if we don’t kill them they will kill us,” Justice Singhvi said. The bench headed by Justice BN Agrawal would further hear the case on Wednesday, as the arguments remained inconclusive.
The ‘godman’ was sentenced to death for murdering his wife Shakereh Namazi by burying her alive in the backyard of their Bangalore house in 1991. The high court confirmed the death sentence in September 2005.