Police encounter killings affect the credibility of the rule of law and the administration of the criminal justice system, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.
The SC said that every death at police hands must be independently investigated and no officer should be rewarded till their gallantry is established beyond doubt.
Ordering a mandatory magisterial inquiry into encounter cases, a bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha insisted the time had come to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the crime who took law in their own hands.”
This was necessary to “restore faith of the people in police force.”
The landmark verdict lays down elaborate guidelines to be followed in investigating all cases of death and grievous injury in police encounters cases, which continue to occur in spite of constitutional provisions safeguarding the personal liberty and life of citizens.
The state CID or police team of another police station shall now conduct an independent investigation into the encounter. “It is imperative the extra-judicial killings are properly and independently investigated to that justice may be done,” the bench said.
Whenever the police receives intelligence tip-off regarding criminal movements, it shall be reduced to writing, the bench said. It could either be in a case diary or in some electronic form. Details of the suspect or the location to which the party is headed may not be noted.
A report on the killing must be sent to the judicial magistrate, SC said disposing a PIL by NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) asking framing of guidelines in encounter cases.
It alleged 99 encounters took place in Mumbai resulting in death of about 135 persons between 1995 and 1997.