NHRC says police should not take law in its own hands; calls for a CBI inquiry by UP, Government into a fake encounter case

New Delhi July 26, 2007 The National Human Rights Commission has said that "the job of the police is to apprehend criminals and bring them to book. If the police transgresses its limits and takes the law in its own hands, the security of the citizen is seriously jeopardized. Merely because a person is perceived to be a dreaded criminal and threat to society, the Police can have no justification to deprive him of his life otherwise than in accordance with the procedure established by law".

The Commissions' observation came while dealing with the case of a fake encounter in Uttar Pradesh. The Commission has also asked the State authorities to get the case investigated by CBI.

The incident of fake encounter involved Suraj Singh, who was picked up by a team of SOG, Sultanpur, on February 12, 2007. Suraj Singh's brother Chandan Singh sent a fax message to the Commission around 5 p.m the same day, expressing apprehension that his brother might be killed by the police in a fake encounter.

The Commission received the message on Feb 13, 2007 at 11:45 a.m. On the next day i.e Feb 14, 2007 the Commission received two separate messages - one from SSP, Lucknow and the other from STF, UP. The information in both the messages was that Suraj Singh had been killed in an encounter with the police at Lucknow- Rai Bareilly Road, on Feb 13, 2007 at 7: 35. Both the messages also said that Suraj Singh was involved in a train robbery in which two constables were killed.

Taking into account that the Commission had received the message from the deceased's brother before the alleged time of encounter. The Commission felt that the circumstances attending the case raised serious doubts about the authenticity of the police version and found it a fit case for sending a team immediately. Under Commission's directions a team of officials of the Investigation Division headed by DIG (NHRC) conducted spot investigation at Lucknow, Sultanpur and Faizabad from Feb 26 to Mar 2, 2007. The team after an inquiry came out with a number of conclusions and recommendations. NHRC sent its own team for an on the spot inquiry.

The investigation team of the Commission in its report said that the encounter in which Suraj Singh was killed was stage-managed by the police to justify the killing. Criminal cases u/s 307 IPC and sec 25/27 of the Arms Act, were registered against the deceased at Police Station Mohanlalganj, Lucknow.

The Commission observed that whenever an incident of fake encounter is brought to its notice, it has to be thoroughly investigated. However, in the present case where senior officers of the rank of SSP and DSP were involved, an investigation by the local police would not be independent as it should be. Therefore, the Commission said that the case should be investigated by the CBI.

The Commission, further, said that the investigation should cover the allegation of killing of Suraj Singh in fake encounter and the UP, Government, through its Chief Secretary should convey its consent for CBI investigation to the Central Government at the earliest under intimation to the Commission by Aug 3, 2007.