'State machinery defending its officers': SC on 19-year-old UP Police 'encounter'
New Delhi, Oct 1: For 19 years, the father of a man, killed in an alleged police encounter, did his utmost to seek seeking justice in a case registered against police officers responsible. His plight did not go unnoticed by the Supreme Court, which imposed interim costs of Rs 7 lakh on the Uttar Pradesh government and slammed it for defending its officers.
A bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose said: "Such conduct of the respondent/state cannot be understood. The laxity with which state has proceeded in the present case speaks volumes of how State machinery is defending or protecting its own police officers."
The bench said this is a very serious case where the petitioner, Yash Pal Singh, who is father of the deceased, is running from pillar to post to ensure that the justice is given to him in a case which was registered against the accused, who were all police officers. "The incident is of 2002 and since then the matter has been pending," it noted.
In January 2005, the trial court had rejected a closure report filed by the police. The bench noted that as per case records, the accused police personnel were not even arrested for the next nine months even though there was no stay of the proceedings.
"Even after the High Court dismissed the writ petition and also the petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. filed by the co-accused, which was on February 20, 2017, the accused persons were then also not arrested," the top court noted.
The trial court, in 2018, directed the government to stop payment of salary of the accused persons but still the same was not done except in the case of one accused. According to the father of the deceased, the order of stopping of the salary of the accused was again passed on April 2, 2019, which has not been complied so far.
The top court issued notice on September 1, on the writ petition and then the state machinery geared up for action, arresting two of the accused after 19 years and one accused has surrendered. However, the fourth accused is still absconding.
The petitioner's counsel submitted that the fourth accused, who is absconding, has retired from service in 2019 and has been paid all his retiral dues even though there was an order for stopping payment of salary.
The bench said: "Normally, we are slow in entertaining petitions directly filed in this Court but in the extraordinary circumstances of this case, we have entertained this petition to ensure that justice be given to the petitioner, which has been denied for about two decades."
The Additional Advocate General for Uttar Pradesh submitted the government is taking every action in the matter and has also initiated an enquiry as to why steps were not taken at the appropriate stage.
Taking into account sufferings of petitioner, the top court said: "we direct that the State of Uttar Pradesh to deposit a sum of Rs 7 lakh with the Registry of this Court towards interim costs within one week from today. On such deposit being made, the petitioner, who is father of the deceased, shall be entitled to withdraw the same. List this matter on October 20."