Advocate Vishal Tiwari Challenges State’s Stand
Advocate Vishal Tiwari, the PIL petitioner who approached the Supreme Court seeking an independent investigation into police encounter killings in Uttar Pradesh, has strongly refuted the statements made by the State in its status report.
Police Encounter Killings: Celebrated Achievements
In his rejoinder, Advocate Tiwari highlighted that encounter killings are often celebrated as achievements by state police officials, which further encourage arbitrary and unconstitutional actions. He pointed out that this celebration is evident through out-of-turn promotions and gallantry awards granted to officers involved in such killings.
Questioning the Legitimacy of Police Encounters
The petitioner questioned the State’s stand that police encounters were legitimate exercises in self-defence. He made the point that the police, being a strong force, should avoid using too much force or seeking revenge, especially when dealing with a group that is not as strong or powerful as them.
Advocate Tiwari emphasized, “Police being a mighty force cannot always resort to the theory of self-defense, especially when the opposite party is a minor group with fewer weapons. If the police fire at the victim when there is a chance to overpower them without killing, it is retaliation. When the State uses such excessive or retaliatory force leading to death, it is referred to as an extra-judicial killing or an extrajudicial execution.”
Misleading the Court
Advocate Vishal Tiwari asserted that the State failed to accurately disclose crucial facts and intentionally misled the Court. He pointed out that, as per the Court’s direction on August 11, the State was supposed to respond regarding the encounter killings mentioned in his writ petition, which referred to 183 encounter incidents. However, the State’s report only addressed seven incidents, indicating non-compliance with the court order.
“The respondents have deliberately not given any Status Report or reply to the 183 encounter killings. Many of these encounters might have been fake, and no proper compliance of the Guidelines laid down by this Honorable Supreme Court has been made,” he stated. He also noted that in January 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Commission expressed concern about the encounter killings in Uttar Pradesh.
Misinterpretation of Chauhan Commission Report
Advocate Tiwari said the government misinterpreted the Chauhan Commission’s report, clearing the police of any wrongdoing in the 2020 Kanpur/Bikru encounter killings. However, he pointed out that the Commission had made the report without any opposing evidence against the police’s account.
Concerns About Atiq Ahmed’s Killing
Regarding the death of Atiq Ahmed, the petitioner raised two important concerns. Firstly, he mentioned that Atiq’s brother had filed a petition before the High Court seeking safety and protection for Atiq’s sibling during transit in police custody. However, the state’s status report allegedly failed to address this crucial fact or provide an explanation regarding the steps taken by the state to protect Atiq’s sibling.
Independence of the Special Investigation Team (SIT)
Concerns were also raised about the independence of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating the deaths of Atiq and his sibling. The affidavit underscored a consistent pattern in these police encounter cases, wherein law enforcement authorities assert that they have received information from informants. This information often leads to confrontations that escalate into the use of deadly force.
The petitioner claimed that family members are prohibited from filing a First Information Report (FIR) against the police officials when seeking an investigation into these killings.
- Case Title: Vishal Tiwari v. Union of India | Aisha Noori v. Union of India
In summary, Advocate Vishal Tiwari has strongly challenged the State’s stand on police encounter killings in Uttar Pradesh, alleging deliberate non-compliance with court orders and misleading of the Court. He also highlighted concerns about the independence of investigations and violations of human rights in these cases.