SC dismisses Gujarat's plea for uniform policy on probing shootouts
The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a plea by the Gujarat government seeking uniform mechanism for investigation of staged shootout cases across the country, noting the plea was being opposed by most of the states and Gujarat was in minority.
Pointing out that law and order was a state subject, a bench of Chief Justice R.M.Lodha, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph said: "We can't interfere in the constitutional structure which is federal in nature."
As none of the states favoured the plea by Gujarat, the court said that none of the states are for such a policy and it was in a minority.
"It would be an interference in the constitutional structure. We can't do anything," said the court, dismissing the plea.
As none of the states supported the proposition of Gujarat government, the court said: "This is a sensitive matter and it has to be within constitutional parameters."
With Gujarat finding no takers for its plea, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) told the court that their guidelines, which are recommendatory in nature, are present but the states are not following them.
Saying that it was not convinced of the justification for Gujarat coming to it, the court said it is the NHRC which should have come to court for non-compliance of its guidelines.
Gujarat, which had moved the apex court in April 2012 after several of its police officers were embroiled in cases of allegedly staged shootings, had pleaded that such a policy would ensure that "on one hand extra-judicial killings under the garb of 'fake encounters' stop and at the same time honest police officers, discharging their duties against terrorist organizations/organized criminals are not demoralized being under the threat of possibility of motivated allegations being made against them".
The state's Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta had told the apex court April 13, 2012, that the vital question involved was that neither the rights of the people under article 21 of the constitution are violated and at the same time the protectors of law are not haunted for the acts in discharge of their duties.
The Gujarat government in its plea had sought direction that all cases of alleged staged shootouts in all the states in past 10 years to be investigated by such independent Monitoring Authority and Special Task Force to be constituted by each state/union territories and their reports be placed before the apex court.
(Posted on 09-05-2014)