SC calls for independent probe into police shootings

New Delhi, Sep 23 :

The Supreme Court Tuesday called for an independent and impartial probe in police shooting cases either by the state CIDs or a police station other than the one involved in it.

It also said that in staged shootout cases, the police officer leading the team must not escape its consequences.

“An independent investigation into the incident/encounter shall be conducted by the CID or police team of another police station under the supervision of a senior officer (at least a level above the head of the police party engaged in the encounter),” the bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said.
Supreme Court of India
The court said its “guidelines will also be applicable to grievous injury cases in police encounter, as far as possible”.

To guard against police not following procedure as directed by it, the court said: “If the family of the victim finds that the above procedure has not been followed or there exists a pattern of abuse or lack of independent investigation or impartiality by any of the functionaries, it may make a complaint to the sessions judge having territorial jurisdiction over the place of incident.”

“Upon such complaint being made, the concerned sessions judge shall look into the merits of the complaint and address the grievances raised therein,” it said.

To rule out cases where police officers are wrongly decorated or promoted even for non-deserving incidents of police firing or even staged shootouts, the court said: “No out-of-turn promotion or instant gallantry rewards shall be bestowed on the concerned officers soon after the occurrence.”

“It must be ensured at all costs that such rewards are given/recommended only when the gallantry of the concerned officers is established beyond doubt,” it said.

If on the conclusion of an investigation, “the materials/evidence having come on record show that death occurred by use of firearm amounting to offence under the IPC, disciplinary action against such officer must be promptly initiated and he be placed under suspension”.

In such an event, the police officer “must surrender his/her weapons for forensic and ballistic analysis, including any other material, as required by the investigating team, subject to the rights under article 20 of the Constitution”, it said.

The court said the relatives of the victim of a staged shootout would receive compensation as provided under section 357-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Detailing what the team probing the police firing cases had to do, the court said the team would seek the identity of the victim, colour photographs of the victim, recover and preserve evidentiary material, including blood-stained earth, hair, fibres and threads relating to death.

In the event of death, the next of kin of the alleged criminal/victim must be informed at the earliest.

Saying that there should be no delay in sending FIR, diary entries, sketches etc. to the concerned court, the bench said “after full investigation, the report should be sent to the competent court under section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure”.

It also directed expeditious trial of the case.

“Whenever police receive any intelligence or tip-off regarding criminal movements or activities pertaining to the commission of a grave criminal offence”, the same shall be reduced into writing in some form (preferably into a case diary) or in some electronic form.

However, “such recording need not reveal details of the suspect or the location to which the party is headed”, the court said.

It also said that six-monthly statements of all cases where deaths have occurred in police firing must be sent to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) by the state directors general of police (DGPs).

It must also be ensured that the six-monthly statements reach the NHRC by the 15th day of January and July.


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