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SC dismisses plea for enquiry commission into Rakesh Pandey encounter killing

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking directions to set up a commission for enquiring into the custodial/encounter killing of wanted criminal Rakesh Pandey in Lucknow on August 9.

A bench of Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and Justices A. S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian heard the matter through video conferencing. Petitioner argued that “Everyday State is committing such crime”. The Court replied “do you want us to pass an injunction order against the States to not commit crimes?”

You must go to the High Court, as the High Court has power as wide as the Supreme Court,” said the Court.

The petitioner, Vishal Tiwari, kept on arguing the matter, but the Court wasn’t inclined to pass any order. “We don’t want to hear, go to the high court,” said the bench.

The court was hearing Tiwari’s petition seeking issuance of specific directions in the custodial /encounter killing of accused Rakesh Pandey and for the registration of FIR under Sections 302, 201, 120-B, 193 of the Indian Penal Code against the police officials involved in the alleged killing.

Tiwari has urged the court to set up a commission headed by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court for enquiry and investigation into the said killing.

The petition referred to the encounter killing of  Pandey, alias Hanuman Pandey. The Uttar Pradesh Police’s Special Task Force (STF) had gunned down Pandey, an accused in the 2005 murder case of BJP leader Krishnanand Rai, in an encounter near Sarojini Nagar Police Station in the Lucknow-Kanpur highway.

According to the petition, the police version was that they were looking for Pandey since long. On August 9, they received secret information regarding his location. The STF team went to arrest him and while chasing the vehicle in which Pandey was travelling, it collided with a tree. Rakesh Pandey, who was still in the vehicle, opened fire on police and in retaliation the police shot at him.

The petitioner has alleged that it becomes doubtful that for the last so many years the police failed to trace him and suddenly in present time when encounters are in vogue in UP, they received information about his whereabouts and killed him. It was also said that four others who were along with Rakesh Pandey in the same vehicle managed to escape. The entire incident, according to the petitioner, appears to be false and is an extra judicial killing suppressing the rule of law.

Referring to encounter cases like the Ishrat Jahan encounter case in 2004, Gujarat, Sohrabuddin encounter case in 2005, Rajasthan, Dara Singh encounter in 2006, Rajasthan, Hyderabad encounter case in 2019, Telangana, Vikas Dubey and his other relatives encounter case in 2020, Uttar Pradesh, the petitioner submitted that “90 percent of encounter cases have been proved fake or doubtful. The public do not support criminals in society, but the public also does not support the police committing illegal activities.”

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The petitioner has further submitted that in People’s Union for civil liberties and another versus State of Maharashtra and others, the Supreme Court laid down 16-point guidelines in relation to police encounter which require to be followed strictly in these encounter cases.

– India Legal Bureau

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