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Petition filed by People’s Union for Civil Liberties says 49 people killed in over 1110 police encounters across Uttar Pradesh in past year

The Supreme Court, on Monday (July 2) sought the response of Yogi Adityanath BJP government in Uttar Pradesh in a petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) which has demanded a CBI probe into the scores of “extra-judicial killings” that have been reported from the state over the past year.

Advocate Sanjay Parekh, appearing for the petitioner, told the apex court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud that 49 persons had been gunned down in over 1100 encounters carried out by the Uttar Pradesh police ever since Yogi Adityanath took over as chief minister of the state last year. The encounters also left over 370 civilians injured, the petition adds.

The bench has granted the Adityanath government two weeks to submit its response against the petition. The court has also asked the petitioner to serve a copy of its petition, which challenges the “massive administrative liquidations” by the UP police, to the state’s Advocate General, Raghvendra Singh, and Additional Advocate General, Aishwarya Bhati.

The matter has been listed for hearing after three weeks.

The petitioner has claimed that the police encounters were carried out following endorsement by the Adityanath administration, in “open defiance” of human rights and civil liberties, and that the government appeared to favour liquidation of human lives rather than bringing suspected criminals to stand trial for their alleged crimes.

The petition says: “State cannot adopt such means which are against the constitutional principles to fight with terrorism or hardened criminals. Such extra-judicial killings in the name of encounters are considered ‘State-sponsored terror.”

To support its contention, PUCL has placed reliance on a controversial and widely reported statement by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath wherein he purported said: “criminals will be jailed or killed in encounters” and that “everyone should be guaranteed security, but those who want to disturb peace of the society and believe in the gun, should be given the answer in the language of the gun.”

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had taken cognisance of these remarks by Adityanath and issued notices to his government, stating: “It seems that the police personnel in UP are feeling free, misusing their power in the light of an undeclared endorsement given by the higher- ups. They are using their privileges to settle scores with the people.”

—India Legal Bureau

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