New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday upheld a trial court's order convicting and awarding life terms to seven policemen for killing a 22-year-old MBA student in a staged shootout in Dehradun in 2009.
The High Court ruled that a "fake encounter has no place in legal system". "A fake encounter is a form of extra judicial killing which has no place in a legal system governed by the rule of law. "It is a manifestation of the impunity with which armed forces, including the police, are prone to act in utter disregard of the rule of law," a bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and I.S. Mehta said. "It also is symbolic of the cynicism with which the police themselves view the efficacy of the criminal justice system. "The police, in this perception, are not just the accusers, but the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner." The court described the matter as "a tragic case of the killing of a 20-year-old by the Uttarakhand Police in a fake encounter." "The lawlessness of a police force, which is what a fake encounter represents, is not a new phenomenon," the court said convicting seven Uttarakhand policemen in the 2009 killing of the MBA student in Dehradun.
It held them guilty of involvement in the conspiracy to kidnap and kill Ghaziabad resident Ranbir Singh, who went to Dehradun to take up a job on July 3, 2009. A trial court in June 2014 awarded life imprisonment to 17 policemen convicted of killing Singh. They were arrested for gunning down the young man on charges that he was "attempting to commit crime". The case was transferred to Delhi by the Supreme Court on the plea of Ranbir Singh's father Ravindra Singh.
"The prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt their (seven policemen) guilt for the substantive offence of abduction of and illegal detention of the deceased,.. and his murder" under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the High Court said. The seven policemen are then-Inspector Santosh Jaiswal and Sub-Inspectors Gopal Dutt Bhatt, Rajesh Bisht, Neeraj Kumar, Nitin Chauhan, Chandra Mohan and Ajeet Singh.
The court pointed out that the convicts have failed to prove their defence that they fired in self-defence consequent upon the deceased and his two associates firing at them. "The bullet marks on the teak trees in the forest do not conclusively prove that the deceased fired upon the policemen. Not even one of the accused policemen has suffered any injury," the court said. "All the bullet entry wounds on the body of the deceased have been accounted for by the medical and ballistic evidence," the court said pointing out that the wounds were caused by the weapons wielded by the seven policemen convicted in the case. However, the court acquitted the rest of the accused in the case saying that they cannot be held responsible for those bullet wounds which caused the death of the deceased. The court also noted that there was no evidence to show that the other accused had either participated in any manner or themselves inflicted any of those injuries on the victim. Eighteen policemen were charge sheeted by the CBI in connection with the case. The other policemen charged in the case were constables Ajeet Singh, Satbir Singh, Sunil Saini, Chander Pal, Saurabh Nautiyal, Nagendra Nath, Vikas Chandra Baluni, Sanjay Rawat, Mohan Singh Rana, Inder Bhan Singh, Manoj Kumar and Head Operator at the city Control Room Jaspal Singh Gosain. (IANS)