The Ishrat fake encounter case highlights the increasing tendency of the Indian Police to take the law in their own hands. Though this case happened in 2004, there have been several others in the country, including by the Delhi police, both before and after. The law prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of life under any circumstances. Proper procedure is not followed in any of these cases. This is a travesty of justice. Usually, each such case has to be properly investigated by the police and the evidence has to be gathered and placed before the judge. The police must follow due process in all cases of suspected crimes. It must not prejudice the issue and shoot people without the evidence being properly weighed. Policemen cannot commit murders in the name of encounters. There is no government sanction for these killings or even that of society. The public does not approve of these crimes by the police. In modern democratic societies human life cannot be taken except by a legal process. Despite its reputation as a democracy, India is becoming a country with a serious human-rights problem as far as encounter deaths are concerned, with most of the victims being innocent. These are violations of human rights which are increasing.
Encounter deaths are a crime. They are an inhuman practice perpetrated by the police. Although the right to life is enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian constitution, the increasing incidence of extra-judicial killings in the country demonstrates that the government has failed to take effective measures against the police force, or to bring them to book. It must be remembered that respect for human rights is the sine qua non of any civilised society, and that disrespect for human rights is equal to denying civil liberties guaranteed to citizens by the state. The National Human Rights Commission has ordered that every ‘encounter death’ should be reported to them within 48 hrs and every ‘encounter death’ should be investigated by an independent organisation. Our IPC, CrPC and Article 21 of Indian constitution also demands full and impartial investigation in case of each and every ‘encounter death’. Encounter deaths must stop immediately.