On Thursday, The Supreme Court imposed an interim cost of ₹ 7 lakh fine on the State of Uttar Pradesh over a 19-year-old encounter case, while undermining the State in its efforts to protect its police officers.
“The petitioner, who is the father of the deceased, has been running from pillar to the post for the past 19 years. The deceased was killed in an alleged police encounter. The state’s laxity in the case revealed how the State machinery was protecting its police officers.” The Bench comprising of Justices Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose said.
The Court, therefore, further instructed the State Government to deposit ₹ 7 lakh with the Court registry which the petitioner will then would have the right to withdraw.
The case dates back to 2002 when a man was killed in an encounter by the UP police. This was followed by a closure report filed by the police in the year 2005 that dismissed the charges against its own officers. The trial court rejected the closure report but no arrests have been made despite the same. The position prevailed even after the Allahabad HC dismissed the writ petition and Section 482 pleas filed by the accused.
Although orders were passed by the trial court in 2018 and 2019 to stop paying salaries to the accused police officers, the order was not followed. Subsequently, it was noted that the fourth accused who fled was paid all his retirement benefits when he retired in 2019.
It was only after the intervention of the Supreme Court on September 1, 2021, that two were arrested and one of the accused surrendered.
“It is noteworthy that State machinery decided to act up and arrested two accused after 19 years and one of the accused surrendered only after notices were issued by the Supreme Court regarding the writ petition on 1st September 2021. As for the fourth accused, it is stated that he is still on the run,” the Supreme Court said.
The Court also said that they are normally slow in entertaining petitions filed before it directly under Article 32 but the unusual and extraordinary circumstances of this case forced the court to do so in order to obtain justice.
“In the view of the facts of the case, and also in the full view of the circumstances and the difficulties the petitioner had to go through, we hereby direct the State of Uttar Pradesh to deposit a sum of Rs 7 lakh in the registry of the Court as interim costs within one week from today. The petitioner, who is the father of the deceased, will have the right to withdraw the said deposit, “the court said.
Garima Prasad who is an Additional Advocate General guaranteed the court that the State would find out why no action was taken in this matter for so many years.
The next hearing of the case is on October 20, 2021.