The Supreme Court has imposed a cost of ₹seven lakh on the Uttar Pradesh government over a lax probe in a case involving four policemen, who evaded arrest for 19 years in an “encounter” death case cocking a snook at the trial court’s repeated arrest warrants and a direction passed by the top Court in 2016 to complete the trial within a year.
Appalled at the manner in which the state police made the father of the victim run from pillar to post for almost two decades, a bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose said, “The laxity with which State has proceeded in the present case speaks volumes of how state machinery is defending or protecting its own police officers.”
Directing an interim compensation to the victim’s father, Yash Pal Singh, who filed a writ petition seeking arrest of the accused policemen, the bench said, “Keeping in view the totality of the circumstances and the sufferings which the petitioner has undergone, we direct the state of Uttar Pradesh to deposit a sum of ₹7 lakhs with the Registry of this Court towards interim costs within one week.”
The order was passed on Thursday but was uploaded on the court’s website on Friday. The bench added that on deposit of the money, the petitioner shall be entitled to withdraw the same.
The case involves the killing of a teenager by the police in an alleged “encounter” while he was on his way to Delhi on August 4, 2002, with regard to his father’s dairy business. The medical report showed policemen battered him, made him kneel down, and shot him dead. Eight policemen were involved in the incident of which four were arrested while the others remained at large.
On September 1, the top court issued notice on the petition following which two of the accused were arrested while the third surrendered. The fourth accused was reported to be still absconding.
“….unfortunately, the manner in which the State has proceeded, the petitioner has been compelled to file this writ petition…,” the bench observed.
Additional advocate general (Uttar Pradesh) Garima Prasad told the court the state ordered an inquiry to ascertain why steps were not taken at the appropriate stage. The accused cops are Sanjeev Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Randheer Singh, and Jitendra Singh.
Advocate Divyesh Pratap Singh, appearing for the petitioner, blamed the state for allowing the matter to come to this pass. He added repeated orders by the trial judge to secure the presence of the accused was frustrated by the state police.
Within two years of the incident, the state submitted a closure report in May 2004 before the trial court and allegedly forged the signature of the petitioner’s wife to show that they were served notice of the same. The father moved a protest petition to ensure the probe into his son’s death continues. The closure report was set aside.
In October 2005, the Allahabad high court ordered a stay of the trial on a petition filed by one of the accused. This order was vacated in 2017. The trial court passed several orders to secure the arrest of the four but not a single warrant was executed. The petitioner approached the Supreme Court seven times to ensure a fair trial. In November 2016, the top court directed the trial be completed within a year.
In May 2018, the trial judge directed the police chief to stop the salaries of the accused. The order was not honoured. One of the accused, who retired in 2019, was even paid retirement benefits.
The bench said in the ordinary course, the top court is hesitant to admit writ petitions filed directly before it. But in the present case, the bench said, “In the extraordinary circumstances of this case, we have entertained this petition to ensure that justice is given to the petitioner, which has been denied for about two decades.”
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on October 20.