‘Cops caught in fake encounters should be hanged’

A bench of justices Markandeya Katju and CK Prasad said that police personnel as custodians of law are expected to protect people.

New Delhi: Police personnel involved in fake
encounter killings should be awarded death sentence and
hanged, the Supreme Court has said.

A bench of justices Markandeya Katju and CK Prasad said
that police personnel as custodians of law are expected to
protect people and not eliminate them as contract killers.

"Fake encounter killings by cops are nothing but cold-
blooded brutal murder which should be treated as the rarest of
rare offence and police personnel responsible for it should be
awarded death sentence. They should be hanged," Justice Katju,
heading the bench, said.

The court observed this while directing the surrender of
two senior Rajasthan IPS officers (Additional DGP Arvind Jain
and SP Arshad) allegedly involved in the fake encounter
killing of an alleged gangster (Dara Singh) by the Special
Operations Group of Rajasthan Police on October 23, 2006.

The bench said the accused police officers if they fail
to surrender shall be arrested by the CBI which is
investigating the case.

"The same parameters will apply and the law shall take
its own course," Justice Katju observed when counsel for
Singh`s widow Sushila Devi said that one of the accused
Rajender Rathore, a former minister, was also absconding.

"...If crimes are committed by ordinary people, ordinary
punishment should be given but if the offence is committed by
policemen much harsher punishment should be given to them
because they do an act totally contrary to their duties."

The apex court had in April last year directed a CBI
probe on an application moved by Sushila Devi accusing the
Rajasthan Police of abducting her husband, killing him in a
cold blooded manner and passing it off as an encounter.

According to the Rajasthan government, Dara Singh was a
proclaimed offender carrying a reward of Rs 25,000 on his head
and was involved in criminal activities.

In May, in another case of alleged fake encounter killing
of a businessmen by Maharashtra Police, the apex court said
actions by police cannot be treated as ordinary incidents and
exemplary punishment should be meted out to the accused.

"This is a very serious case and cannot be treated like
an ordinary case. The accused who are policemen are supposed
to uphold the law but the allegation against them is that they
functioned as contract killers," it said.

According to the court, it would not brook any excuse
from policemen that they were acting at the behest of their
superior officers.

"We warn policemen that they will not be excused for
committing murder in the name of `encounter` on the pretext
that they were carrying out the orders of their superior
officers or politicians, however high. In the Nuremberg
trials, the Nazi war criminals took the plea that `orders are
orders` but nevertheless they were hanged," the bench had


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