Delhi

Lawyers question Cyberabad police action, demand probe

A woman holding a placard during a silent protest in New Delhi on Friday.

A woman holding a placard during a silent protest in New Delhi on Friday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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No ‘encounter’ in the name of women, says Vrinda Grover; some caution against doubting police

The killing of the four men, accused in the gang rape and murder of a 27-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad, by the Cyberabad police on Friday has come under criticism from the legal community, with some even calling for registration of FIR and independent inquiry into the encounter.

“This appears to be an extrajudicial execution, which is totally illegal. I will not even call it an encounter,” senior advocate Sanjay Hegde said.

“An encounter presupposes an armed combat and firing in self-defence. At 3 a.m., people in police custody trying to escape while recreating the crime scene is not a story that will be easily believable,” Mr. Hegde said.

‘Unacceptable’

Human rights activist and lawyer Vrinda Grover said the alleged encounter killing of the four accused is “absolutely unacceptable”, adding that there must be accountability for the police.

“Say no to trigger-track injustice. This is absolutely unacceptable. So, all that the State will do in the name of ensuring that women live as equal and free citizens is to add to its arsenal of unlimited arbitrary violence,” Ms. Grover said, adding, “no police 'encounter' in the name of women”.

Some lawyers, however, cautioned against doubting the police in the ‘encounter’ killing. Senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta said, “If the contention of the Cyberabad Police Commissioner is correct that the accused were killed in an exchange of fire after they had snatched the weapons of the police, then there can be no question about the legality of the police action.” “Similarly, if the accused were indeed trying to escape, the police were acting in discharge of their duty in preventing them from escaping,” Mr. Gupta added.

He further said, “The Police Commissioner has given a valid justification for taking the accused to the site [of crime] early morning. To avoid a situation where the accused are in the midst of a large number of people who are seething with anger, it is reasonable to go early in the morning.”

‘Wrong precedent’

Advocate Ajay Verma said, “As a criminal defence lawyer and believer of rule of law, I feel that the police should have waited for a trial court’s verdict to rule out the possibility that they were the only persons involved in the crime and no one else. I feel it will set a wrong precedent in society.”

“As per the Indian Constitution and fundamental rule of criminal justice system, every case deserves an effective defence. All accused should have been tried as per the law to rule out the possibility of an innocent being framed by police,” he added.

Advocate Meera Bhatia, who is an amicus curiae in an ongoing case initiated by the Delhi High Court on women’s safety after the December 16 gang-rape case, said that encounters are meant to catch and not kill.

“There are guidelines that the policemen have to follow. Otherwise, they will kill each time an encounter takes place,” Ms. Bhatia said.

Both Mr. Hegde and Ms. Grover demanded registration of FIR and a full criminal investigation by an independent agency, along with a judicial inquiry.

“Those who cheer and encourage such executions may do well to recognise that destruction of the rule of law, and descent into a police state, is not what this country is about,” Mr. Hegde said.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 12:42:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/lawyers-question-cyberabad-police-action-demand-probe/article30226168.ece

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