Four indian rapist shot to death while trying to escape
India woke up to the news of four Indian rapist accused being shot dead by a team of the Hyderabad Police, which claimed the accused tried to flee during the recreation of crime scene on early Friday morning. To many among those who are reacting to this killing of gangrape and murder accused, who were under police custody, the police action was “justice” being delivered.
People were seen shouting slogans in praise of the Hyderabad Police for killing the Indian rapist. Flowers were showered on police personnel. People were seen celebrating the police action in other parts of the country, including the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai.
Some politicians too have justified the police action. Mayawati, the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh said the police action is “commendable” and that justice has been done. She went on to say, “Had police taken a similar tough action in the case of Nirbhaya gangrape, justice could have been delivered early.”
Nirbhaya (not the original name) was gangraped and fatally injured by six persons in a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012. Four of the accused were sentenced to death. But the death sentence has not yet been executed.
The mercy petition of one of the four convicts on the death row was rejected by the Delhi government on December 1 this year. The delay has led to many questioning the justice delivery system. Parents of Nirbhaya – a paramedic student – expressed frustration over their “unending wait for justice”.
Reacting to the Hyderabad Police’s killing of the gangrape accused, Nirbhaya’s mother said it was an “ointment to my wound”.
Another politician Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is in power in Delhi, said people have lost faith in justice delivery system. He merely stopped short of hailing the Hyderabad Police action.
The details of what police terms an “encounter” are yet to fully come out in the public. But police action raises serious questions. Police action betrays the same loss of faith in justice delivery system that Sanjay Singh referred to and citing which a part of the public hailed killing of the rape accused.
However, the police action is bound to face a judicial scrutiny. This is a mandatory follow-up in the wake of 2015 Supreme Court ruling in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties versus State of Maharashtra case.
The Supreme Court made it “mandatory for a magistrate to investigate so-called encounter deaths to ensure that investigations into police encounters are carried out effectively and independently to ensure that investigations into police encounters are carried out effectively and independently”.
There is no law that sanctions killing of an accused of any crime, including that of rape and murder. This forms the basis for a robust judicial system.
The police are an investigating agency and not entitled to adjudicate cases pronouncing verdict on someone’s criminal culpability.
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Declaring someone guilty falls under the jurisdiction of the courts. This is a check on police’s action lest they pick up and implicate people to bring a closure to the case.
In Hyderabad gangrape and murder case, police arrested four persons saying they committed the crime on the night of November 26-27.
For those not aware of what happened in Hyderabad, a 27-year-old veterinarian was waylaid, gangraped, smothered to death and burnt. Police said the four persons arrested committed the crime.
The case was still under investigation. The chargesheet had not been filed. Trial had not begun. The court was yet to hear the accused and the prosecution. It was not yet proven that the accused who were shot dead were the actual culprits of the gangrape and murder. And, even if they were the culprits, the police were not authorised to take their lives.
It is also not clear if the accused were capable – by means of being armed or something similar – to pose threat to life or lives of the policemen who took them for recreating the crime scene. For, only in the case of self-defence, causing death is not a crime under the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. As a benefit of doubt, it is also not yet clear whether the police used all means to capture the accused when they allegedly tried to escape.
However, there are certain provisions that have been cited to partially allow a police person to cause death of an accused. Section 96 of the IPC says nothing is an offence which is done in the exercise of the right of private defence.