[Vikas Dubey Encounter] "Appalled that such a person was released on bail", SC observes; directs UP govt to reconstitute probe committee
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[Vikas Dubey Encounter] "Appalled that such a person was released on bail", SC observes; directs UP govt to reconstitute probe committee

The Court also asked SG Mehta to look into the content of the statements made by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other ministers lauding the encounter killing.

Debayan Roy

The Supreme Court today asked the State of Uttar Pradesh to include a retired Supreme Court judge and a retired police officer in the committee set up to probe the encounter killing of gangster Vikas Dubey and his aides. (Anoop Prakash Awasthi v. State of Uttar Pradesh & ors)

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian was hearing a group of petitions seeking a probe into the encounter killing of gangster Vikas Dubey on July 10.

During today's hearing, the Court expressed its shock at the fact that a criminal like Vikas Dubey was allowed to be enlarged on bail. It thus sought a report concerning such bail orders.

"We are appalled at the fact that such a person was released on bail. This is a failure of an institution where he was released on bail and did this. We need a report on such bail orders."

CJI SA Bobde

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the State of Uttar Pradesh, told the Court that the investigation in the matter is going on as per the law. Mehta told the Court that not only was Dubey a history-sheeter, but he had also demonstrated his "his capability to shoot at police just a few days back before he died".

Mehta was referring to the Kanpur incident where as many as eight police personnel were shot at by Dubey and his aides.

SG Mehta further submitted that Dubey had mutilated the bodies of the policemen killed and had even fired shots at the police when he was being taken from Ujjain to Kanpur.

In response, CJI SA Bobde said,

"You don't have to tell us who Vikas Dubey was. There are close to 50 cases against him."
CJI SA Bobde

"I am just trying to satisfy your conscience", was Mehta's reply.

CJI SA Bobde, however, reminded Mehta that it is the duty of the State to ensure law and order and to uphold the rule of law. The Court went on to draw a distinction between Dubey's case and the Hyderabad encounter of December 2019, where four rape accused were killed by the state police.

"There is a difference in who was killed here and in Hyderabad case where the (alleged) rapists did not have any arms. But you as a state government, you are responsible to maintain rule of law. It requires arrests, trial and sentencing."

While taking note of the developments in the issue, the Supreme Court noted that a committee monitored by a retired High Court Judge has been formed by the State of Uttar Pradesh. It sought to know from Mehta if a retired Supreme Court judge and a former police officer can be added to the committee.

People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), represented by Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh and Advocate Aparna Bhat, informed the Court that some politicians had hailed the encounter killing. It thus argued that an independent inquiry in the matter is needed.

It was further prayed that a sitting Supreme Court judge be appointed to the committee. This prayer, however, was rejected by the Court.

"I cannot have a sitting Supreme Court judge looking into the committee. We are going to ensure the formation of a committee; the retired High Court judge-led committee will now have a retired Supreme Court judge and a former police official."
CJI SA Bobde

PUCL had filed an application in the case to highlight the increased number of encounters in the state. The Court stated that this larger question would be taken up at a later stage, and not along with the pleas concerning Dubey's encounter killing.

Senior Counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh Police, raised the concern of morale of the police force. He argued that this encounter case does not warrant a probe by a committee of this nature or even judicial intervention, lest it demoralizes the police. He said,

"The Telangana matter was different, and the present case is on a different footing. If you have a dreaded terrorist on your hands then was there use of excessive force by the police...It needs to be seen if the police acted in excess...This was a case where a man was being arrested who had slaughtered policemen."

The Court, however, opined that an inquiry will only strengthen the morale of the police force and not demioralise them.

Thus, SG Mehta was asked to submit a draft notification of the re-constituted committee by July 22 and to hand it over to the Supreme Court to issue final appointment orders thereafter.

The Court also asked Mehta to look into the content of the statements made by the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other ministers lauding the encounter killing.

Petitioner Ghanshyam Upadhyay sought to apprise the Court that it was not just Dubey who was killed by encounter. His other aides, including one minor person, were also killed by the UP Police, Upadhyay said. The Court, however, asked Upadhyay to make these submissions and representations before the committee appointed.

Similarly, Parikh was alsotold by the Court to make his suggestions and recommendations to the committee.

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