Singhvi moves SC for mechanism to probe encounter killings, custodial deaths
There should be a judicial magistrate earmarked in every district for such investigation which should be completed within two months and the trial, which follows, should be concluded within a year, Singhvi prayed.Updated: Jul 13, 2020 23:48 IST
Congress leader and senior advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking creation of a special mechanism for time-bound investigation by judicial magistrates into encounter killings and custodial deaths.
There should be a judicial magistrate earmarked in every district for such investigation which should be completed within two months and the trial, which follows, should be concluded within a year, Singhvi prayed.
“Once the preliminary inquiry is completed by the judicial magistrate, unless exonerated by such report, departmental proceedings should be initiated (against the concerned police officials) and completed within a period of 4 months,” the plea said.
He also requested constitution of a permanent committee in each state headed either by the chief justice or a judge of the concerned high court and also comprising one independent member of civil society and one senior government IAS officer not below the rank of joint secretary, to oversee and monitor such investigation into encounters/ custodial deaths.
Singhvi moved the application as part of the landmark case of DK Basu v. State of West Bengal in which the Supreme Court has from time to time issued directions for police reforms.
Singhvi who is the Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) in the matter also sought setting up of Human Rights Courts envisaged by the Human Rights Act.
The plea comes in the backdrop of the encounter killing of Uttar Pradesh gangster Vikas Dubey and alleged custodial killing of Tamil Nadu men Jayaraj and Fenix. Singhvi, however, clarified in his application that his plea is not limited or arising only because of the Tamil Nadu or Vikas Dubey incidents but the same have been used merely as illustrative examples to create the legal safeguards.
He submitted that as per the data collected by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) there was a sharp increase in the number of cases of custodial deaths and encounter killings in past 4-5 years.
“There have been a total of 359 custodial deaths only in past 4 years. This translates into the fact that roughly every 4th day a person is killed in police custody and denied a fair trial,” the plea pointed out.
Singhvi also said that there has been a normalization of custodial violence and encounter through their depictions in popular culture and there is a need to create an informed and compassionate citizenry.
“In the recent past the custodial deaths/encounters have not seen the necessary push back from the citizenry that is accepted of it; on the contrary in few cases such incidents have had huge public support. This leads to an environment that breeds a police force that commits such acts with impunity and victims who do not see a conducive social environment to seek justice,” the application said.