“If the police become lawless, who will protect?”

Picking from John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, in which ‘pandemonium’ is the capital of hell, the CBI on Saturday demanded death for the 17 Uttarakhand police personnel convicted for killing 22-year-old Ranbir Singh in a fake encounter in 2009. It said when the police becomes predator, the situation is like that in pandemonium.

“The inaction of the police or its illegal acts make the place pandemonium. The law protectors acted like predators. Even the Supreme Court has said in its judgment that in case a fake encounter is proved against policemen in a trial, they should be given the death sentence treating it as a rarest of rare case,” Senior CBI prosecutor Brajesh Shukla submitted before Special CBI Judge J.P.S. Malik.

He said such lawlessness on the part of policemen makes the situation graver. Punishment should be such that the lawlessness or inaction is not repeated, the prosecutor told the court which was hearing arguments on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to the 17 men.

While demanding death for the 17 convicts, the CBI said they should also be directed to pay compensation to the victim’s family.

The CBI prosecutor further said the apex court had in the famous D.K. Basu case directed the police force across the country to follow certain guidelines while making arrests but in the instant case, the police personnel kidnapped and tortured the victim before killing him.

Mr. Shukla also told the court that “even Kautilya said and it is quoted in the Mahabharata that without appropriate punishment, the big fish will devour the small fish”. Citing a verse from the Bible that if the salt will lose its flavour, from where shall it be salted, he said: “If the police become lawless, who will protect?”

The defence counsel argued against the death sentence as he said the convicts have clean antecedents and have their families to look after. He also said that “in criminal justice system, sentence should be proportionate to the crime. The crime may be heinous and brutal but may not be rarest of rare”.

The court will pronounce its order on the sentence on Monday.

On Friday, the court had held 18 Uttarakhand police personnel guilty of killing MBA student from Ghaziabad Ranbir Singh in a fake encounter in Dehradun on July 3, 2009. Those convicted for murder and criminal conspiracy are the then inspector Santosh Jaiswal, Sub Inspectors Gopal Dutt Bhatt, Rajesh Bisht, Neeraj Kumar, Nitin Chauhan and Chandra Mohan and Constable Ajeet Singh.

Other convicts are the then constables Satbir Singh, Sunil Saini, Chander Pal, Saurabh Nautiyal, Nagendra Nath, Vikas Chandra Baluni, Sanjay Rawat, Mohan Singh Rana, Inder Bhan Singh and Manoj Kumar.

One accused Jaspal Singh Gosain, who was then the head operator at the city control room, was acquitted of charges of murder and criminal conspiracy. He was only held guilty under IPC Section 218 for framing incorrect record in connection with the fake encounter and released on Friday on furnishing a personal bond of Rs.50,000 and a surety of like amount.

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