Terming the deaths of the eight SIMI activists - who were killed in a police encounter in Bhopal earlier this week - as 'cold blooded murder', former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju has demanded a death sentence for all the accused.
Katju spoke of the need to "chargesheet for murder not only the police personnel who committed these cold-blooded killings, but also the politicians and senior bureaucratic and police officers who gave the order".
"For fake encounters, as in Bhopal, death sentence must be given to those committing&/or ordering it," he said.
In his Facebook post, Katju referred to the words of Allahabad High Court judge, Justice AN Mulla, who said: "I say it with all sense of responsibility that there is not a single lawless group in the whole country whose record of crime is anywhere near the record of that organized unit which is known as the Indian Police Force."
Katju alleged that the people of India, "through their own bitter experience, have learnt about most of our policemen's misbehaviour-demanding "hafta", conducting fake encounters, refusing to lodge FIRs or conduct proper investigations unless money is paid, custodial deaths, torture in custody, etc".
Here is an excerpt from his Facebook post:
Consider the following facts:
1. Sanjeev Shami, the Inspector General of the Anti Terror Squad, said that the eight SIMI under-trial escapees were unarmed, and no cop was injured. It is thus evident that the escapees were shot in cold blood.
2. Bhupendra Singh, the Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh, said that the escapees were armed only with spoons and plates.
3. There is a video clip showing five escapees waving from a rock, and some policeman shouting,"Control, these five men are trying to talk to us. They are trying to run away. Surround them."
4. There is a video clip showing policemen pumping bullets into some escapees, possibly still alive, lying on the ground.
5. There's a video clip with someone shouting "Zinda hai, maaro. Put one in his chest. He will die."
Katju also quotes a bench of the SC in Prakash Kadam vs. Ramprasad Vishwanath Gupta case judgement in 2011.
In Prakash Kadam vs. Ramprasad Gupta a bench of Justice Mishra &myself held that for fake encounters d policemen mst be given death sentence pic.twitter.com/h3FtsiSNIp— Markandey Katju (@mkatju) November 2, 2016
Full text of his post:
In Prakash Kadam vs Ramprasad Vishwanath Gupta, 2011 (see online) a bench of Justice Gyansudha Mishra and myself held that for fake encounters the policemen commiting it must be given death sentence. The relevant part of the judgment is given below:
"In our opinion, the High Court was perfectly justified in cancelling the bail to the accused-appellants. The accused/appellants are police personnel and it was their duty to uphold the law, but far from performing their duty, they appear to have operated as criminals. Thus, the protectors have become the predators. As the Bible says "If the salt has lost its flavour, wherewith shall it be salted?", or as the ancient Romans used to say, 'Who will guard the Praetorian guards?'"
We are of the view that in cases where a fake encounter is proved against policemen in a trial, they must be given death sentence, treating it as the rarest of rare cases. Fake `encounters' are nothing but cold blooded, brutal murder by persons who are supposed to uphold the law. In our opinion if crimes are committed by ordinary people, ordinary punishment should be given, but if the offence is committed by policemen much harsher punishment should be given to them because they do an act totally contrary to their duties.
We warn policemen that they will not be excused for committing murder in the name of `encounter' on the pretext that they were carrying out the orders of their superior officers or politicians, however high. In the Nuremburg trials the Nazi war criminals took the plea that `orders are orders', nevertheless they were hanged. If a policeman is given an illegal order by any superior to do a fake `encounter', it is his duty to refuse to carry out such illegal order, otherwise he will be charged for murder, and if found guilty sentenced to death. The `encounter' philosophy is a criminal philosophy, and all policemen must know this. Trigger happy policemen who think they can kill people in the name of `encounter' and get away with it should know that the gallows await them."