The controversy between encounter
and target killing
been in news on and off for over a decade now. It is undisguised and has
apparently amassed massive support of the public at large as a form of
that in turn escapes the long and tedious process of
judicial prosecution but is it an ideal manoeuvre and is it worthy of
glorification as has been fancied and promoted by several motion pictures and
There certainly are several defects in our judicial system that leads to a
rather long and humdrum process of securing justice, but rather than devising
measures of correcting it, is the promotion of extra-judicial killings
a fitting alternative?
Also, it is intriguing how just an advancement in a well-established controversy
tends to scrape off public attention from other major issues, for example, our
grumbling economy and aggravating COVID-19 conditions. But well, that won't be
the concern of this article because these controversies too are quite likely to
be forgotten long before you know, so it's rather important to discuss facts,
raise questions and put forward arguments while this topic is still in news.
After all, differentiating between an encounter
and a target killing
without proper discussion over facts and legalities would only be a
matter of perception.
Vikas Dubey, a name that has amassed immense attention recently, a dreaded
gangster-turned-politician, who was eventually arrested by Ujjain police in
Madhya Pradesh was killed in an encounter by UP Police. He was said to have at
least five dozen cases of brutal and violent offences against him, which he
certainly balanced well with a strong political backing. He was even preparing
to run for 2022 UP Assembly Elections. He indeed was a symbol of a convenient
schmooze between the political and criminal world.
But these strong connections of a criminal with our political organisations
raise a significant question mark over the actual functioning of our governing
institutions and their morbid associations that are inherently fatal to a
Timeline of the case
July 2- July 3
Vikas Dubey got key inputs, with significant help from his connections within
the police department, about a party that was on its way to arrest him in a case
of attempted murder.
He then arranged a blackout and with the help of his gang ruthlessly shot down 8
police personnel and fled the scene.
Four hours later, two suspects, Prem Prakash Pandey and Atul Dubey were shot
dead by Kanpur Police.
July 3 - Demolition of Dubey's house in Bikri village.
July 4 - S.O. Vinay Tiwari and Inspector K.K. Sharma suspended as their call
detail records confirmed their conversation with the gangster.
July 8 - Amar Dubey nabbed and killed by the STF and Prabhat Mishra arrested in
Borders of the state were sealed and the STF and 50 state police teams raided
all his hideouts and picked up Vikas's relatives.
He was spotted at Faridabad and yet again managed to flee their capture.
July 9 - Prabhat Mishra shot dead in an encounter
July 14 - In Ujjain, Vikas revealed his identity, and surrendered to MP Police.
Handed over to UP STF later.
July 15 - Reached Kanpur in the morning, his SUV overturned, attempted to flee
and was killed in an encounter by UP Police.
Also, there have been reports that the media personnel, who were following the
escort of the gangster, were blocked from proceeding few minutes before the
whole scene took place, this has raised questions over the encounter being a
genuine one and its possibility of being a hoax.
Critical analysis of the UP Police encounter
First of all, the noxious and inherent corruption within the department is quite
visible by two major facts, one, Vikas being tipped off about the police raid,
and second, direct involvement of a Station Officer and Inspector in the
offence, as evidenced by their call logs. Also, inefficiency and lack of
co-ordination within the police department is noticeable.
Secondly, the measures taken to nab Vikas Dubey are quite confusing, rather than
having a complete investigation and a thorough raid within his house in order to
find more clues regarding his afflictions and illegal businesses, the Kanpur
police got the whole house demolished just a day after the attack. It is a
questionable measure and raises several serious questions on the intentions of
Thirdly, the number of the coincidences of Vikas's confidants being nabbed and
killed or maybe encountered
is rather a lot, and this leads to a
common assumption that police are rather killing all the suspects, and under the
same pressure Vikas too seems to have surrendered, i.e., in order to save his
Fourthly, when state borders were sealed, how did Vikas manage to flee from
Faridabad to Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, and if he intended to surrender why did he
not surrender to UP Police?
Lastly, why would a person who surrendered at his own will, try to flee the
custody again, and where did he planned to go to when all his hiding places in
UP were already raided by police, also when his lieutenants were already nabbed
Vikas could have been a ticket to unravel various mysteries of both, the
political and criminal worlds. He could have helped in filtering the adulterated
police department. Though there is also a common understanding that just his
taking names wouldn't have helped in nabbing the culprits. After all, he's a
gangster, how could one believe his claims, pieces of evidence would still be
If the encounter by and reason turned out to be a fake
, it would
smoulder the very fundamentals of a democratic society. The concern would then
be, whether police personnel can be granted such power and if this way of
providing judgement can be considered the same as the judgements delivered by
honourable courts, the former being more speedy alternative as it is not
depended upon arguments and pieces of evidence, has no duty to provide the other
party with a chance to defend itself, it just is an INSTANT JUSTICE.
The welcome of such acts of extra-judicial killings
public figures and the public at large has made its legalities a mandatory
discussion Honourable Supreme Court and National Human Rights Commission have
laid down proper guidelines and procedures that should be followed in order to
prevent any abuse of power by any law enforcing authority. Though it is worth
mentioning that there are no provisions in Indian Law that authorize the
encounters of criminals directly but certain provisions which can be interpreted
in a way to provide police officers with certain power to deal with the
In March 1997, Justice M.N. Venkatesh (the then chairperson of the NHRC)
underlined that the police have not been conferred with any right to take away a
person's life, except under certain situations, i.e., if death is caused in the
exercise of the right to private defence or while the application of Section 46
of CrPC. Section 46 of CrPC authorises police to use force, extending up to
causing death, as may be necessary to arrest the person accused of an offence
punishable with death or imprisonment of life. Later in 2010, NHRC extended its
In PUCL vs State of Maharashtra case,
2014, Supreme Court laid down the
following 16 point guidelines that should be strictly followed in all cases of
death and grievous injury during police encounters and rendered them the status
of law under Article 141 of the Indian Constitution.
- Any intelligence or tip-off regarding a grave criminal offence must be
- An FIR initiating proper criminal investigation must be registered and
forwarded to court.
- The investigation by an independent CID team that has to fulfil eight
minimum investigation requirements must be done.
- A magisterial inquiry is mandatory.
- NHRC or SHRC must be informed with immediate effect.
- Medical Aid must be provided to the victim/criminal and a magistrate/
medical officer must record his statement.
- Ensure forwarding FIR, sketches, police diary entries, etc. to the
concerned court without delay.
- Expeditious and proper trial.
- Victim/criminal's next kin must be informed at the earliest.
- Bi-annual reports must be sent to NHRC of all encounter killings.
- Disciplinary action, as per IPC, must be taken against a police officer
found guilty of wrongful encounter.
- Compensation scheme as described under Section 357-A CrPC must be
- Concerned police officers must surrender their weapons for forensic and
ballistic analysis, as per the rights under Article 20 of Constitution.
- Legal Aid to the officer must be provided.
- No promotion or instant gallantry awards to be bestowed to the officers
- Victim's family can complain to Sessions Judge if it feels that these
guidelines have not been followed.
Also, Right to Life and Personal Liberty (Article 21) is a fundamental and
intangible right available to every person and police, being the officers of
state, are responsible to uphold Constitutional provisions and not derogate
The glorification of extrajudicial killings and its horrendous misuse
There is a public opinion that the rule of law fails to provide justice in cases
concerning powerful offenders and is rather time-consuming. Various evident
defects of Indian judiciary seem to support this view.
The pendency of cases can make anyone want to tear their hair off and the
drastic difference between the no. of judges and pending cases as there are
around 10.5-11 judges for over one million population. Such a large number of
pending cases has indeed defeated the purpose of the judicial system. Lack of
transparency, especially in the appointment of judges, is another problem faced
by one of the world's largest judicial system.
Though there is no denying the fact that if the Indian judiciary effaces these
issues it would make it the world's best and most credible judicial system. What
is important right now is the restoration of faith of common folk in the
judicial processes because the other option they seem to support in order to
obtain instant justice
might turn out to be the collapse of our
fundament democratic principles.
Horrendous misuse of encounters in future may turn out to be catastrophic for
the society in general. The outrage of people all through the country and
demands for the instant killing leads to abandonment of the rule of law
(Article 14). This for sure is not the first time when extra-judicial killing
has been supported by the public at large. From the Ishrat Jahan case in 2004 to
last year's Hyderabad encounter the question of abuse of power by law
enforcing authorities have been raised again and again. The public sentiments
though seem to support such encounters as seen in the Warrangle encounter case
(2008), Hyderabad encounter case (2019) and the present-day Kanpur encounter
No matter how ubberima fide the actions of government are or whether this
encounter was genuine or premeditated, in world's largest democracy, it is a big
question mark on the Judicial body, under the nose of which, all this is
happening. Therefore, it may further be concluded by corroborating the very
fact, that we are in dire need of time-bound and fair legal procedure. For this
is not the first time when the genuineness of a police encounter has come under
question and such reasons could continue to be used in future to justify some
injustice rendered to an innocent.
- Himashri Yadav &
- Huzaifa Shaikh