Beyond The Editorial
Encounter Killings’ is the term used to describe extrajudicial killings by the police or the armed forces when they encounter the alleged criminals or suspected gangsters. The term extrajudicial killing is used for executions done by the state outside the due process of law.
Context: The four accused in the case of rape and murder of a woman veterinarian (Disha) have been killed in an exchange of fire with the Hyderabad Police.
Why encounter killings receive the support of masses?
- The common man is highly unsatisfied with the long-delay in the justice-delivery process. Very often, the accused are not convicted due to lack of evidence.
- Many see encounter killings are a means of ensuring speedy justice.
Encounter Killings – The problem
- What if the those who are killed by encounters are innocent?
- What if the authorities start to misuse the power?
- What if the killings eliminate any further proof of other persons involved?
- Rule of law is the fundamental principle of governance of any civilised liberal democracy. It avoids any sort of arbitrariness.
Is Encounter Killing an offence?
- The only two circumstances in which such killing would not constitute an offence are
- if death is caused in the exercise of the right of private defence.
- if it is necessary to arrest the person accused of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life – under Section 46 of the CrPC, which authorises the police to use force, extending up to the causing of death, as may be.
What if the Encounter Killings are fake?
- There can be cases when the encounter killings are pre-planned. Many encounter killings generally take place with the prior consent or in full knowledge of the top authority. It may not be an act of self-defence or retaliation – but just pre-planned murder by police authorities.
How should the death at police hands be investigated: The 16-point guideline by the Supreme Court of India.The Supreme Court bench of chief justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Rohinton F. Nariman in 2014 outlined a 16-point guideline to follow in cases of death or grievous injury in police encounters. As per the Supreme Court of India, every death at police hands must be recorded and investigated by an independent agency or a police unit not involved in the case.
The guidelines, in brief, are as follows:
- Tip-offs about criminal activities must be recorded either in writing or electronic form.
- If pursuant to a tip-off the police use firearms and this results in the death of a person, then an FIR initiating proper criminal investigation must be registered.
- The investigation into such death will be done by an independent CID team which has to fulfil eight minimum investigation requirements.
- A mandatory magisterial enquiry into all cases of encounter deaths.
- The NHRC or State commission must be immediately informed of the encounter death.
- Medical aid to injured victim/criminal and a magistrate should record his statement.
- Ensure forwarding FIR and police diary entries to court without delay.
- Expeditious and proper trial.
- Informing next of kin of the dead alleged criminal.
- Bi-annual statements of all encounter killings to be sent to the NHRC and state commissions by a set date in a set format.
- Disciplinary action against and suspension of a police officer if found guilty of wrongful encounter.
- Compensation scheme under the CrPC to be followed for awarding it to the kin of the dead victim.
- Police officers must surrender their weapons for investigation, subject to rights under Article 20 of the Constitution.
- Intimate family of the accused police officer and offer services of lawyer/counsellor.
- No out of turn gallantry awards for the officers involved in encounter killings.
- The family of the victim can complain to the Sessions judge if it feels that these guidelines have not been followed. The judge will take cognisance.
- Unless it is for self-defence, all extra-judicial killings are otherwise unacceptable in a society of law.
- ‘The rule by gun’ should not be preferred to ‘the rule of law’. The fundamental premise of the rule of law is that every human being, including the worst criminal, is entitled to basic human rights and due process.
- Two important reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on the impact of higher global temperatures on land, oceans and the cryosphere reiterated the urgency in tackling the issue of climate change
- Even under the most optimistic scenarios, human health, livelihoods, biodiversity and food systems face a serious threat from climate change.
- In the case of oceans and frozen areas on land
- accelerated rates of loss of ice, particularly in Greenland, the Arctic and the Antarctic, will produce a destructive rise in sea levels
- increases in tropical cyclone winds, rainfall and extreme waves, combined with relative sea level rise, will exacerbate catastrophic sea level events.
- Adversely affect the health of fish stocks
- For countries like India, the local sea level anomalies that occurred once in a century may become annual events
- Climate change is an alarming scenario for the 680 million residents of low-lying coastal areas, whose population may go up to one billion by 2050, and for those living in small islands.
- The new IPCC assessment strengthens the case for industrialised nations to provide liberal, transparent funding to developing countries under the Paris Agreement, reinforcing the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities
- The existing Nationally Determined Contributions filed under the Paris Agreement fall short and need augmenting.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
Why in news: NHRC to probe Hyderabad encounter
- The NHRC is a Statutory public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993.
- It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (TPHRA).
- It is responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as “Rights Relating To Life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants.
Powers of NHRC
- NHRC investigates grievances regarding the violation of human rights either suo moto or after receiving a petition.
- It has the power to interfere in any judicial proceedings involving any allegation of violation of human rights.
- It can visit any jail or any other institution under the control of the State Government to see the living conditions of the inmates and to make recommendations thereon.
- It can review the safeguards provided under the constitution or any law for the protection of human rights and can recommend appropriate remedial measures.
Relevance: GS 2 – Statutory Bodies
Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG)
Why in news: The 10th Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) Meeting has started at Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.
- The IUCN AsESG is a global network of specialists concerned with the study, monitoring, management, and conservation of Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus).
- The overall aim of the AsESG is to promote the long-term conservation of Asia’s elephants and, where possible, the recovery of their populations to viable levels.
- The AsESG acts as the Red List Authority for the Asian Elephant, carrying out Red List assessments for inclusion in the IUCN Red List
- Group members have also helped in the development of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) system for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) and The Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS)
- All AsESG members are actively involved in some aspect of elephant conservation and/or management.
Relevance: Prelims – Conservation efforts
Why in news: The latest data show that since 2010, the Adaptation Fund has directed $532 million to 80 concrete adaptation projects in the most vulnerable communities of developing countries
About the fund
- Established under the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- It finances projects and programmes that help vulnerable communities in developing countries adapt to climate change.
- Initiatives are based on country needs, views and priorities.
- The Fund is financed in part by government and private donors, and also from a two percent share of proceeds of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) issued under the Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism projects
- The Fund is supervised and managed by the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB). The AFB is composed of 16 members and 16 alternates and meets at least twice a year.
- The World Bank serves as trustee of the Adaptation Fund on an interim basis.
Relevance: Prelims – Climate Change