Friday, January 28News That Matters

Rule of law undermined by rule of gun

Justice Brande of United States has rightly said, “Government is the most potent and omnipresent teacher that teaches the whole people by its example”, If the government itself becomes law breaker, it invites every man to became a law unto himself.
Recent encounters in Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, and Assam have outraged many people and human rights activists, who call them fake encounters and extra judicial killings. The NHRC registered 1,782 fake encounter cases between 2000-2017, with UP alone accounting for 44.55% of them. The inquiry commission constituted by the Supreme Court on December 12, 2019, to look into the Hyderabad encounter of 2019 continues its public hearings in Hyderabad. Custodial crimes, inhuman treatment of accused by police during investigation, crude methods of investigation, abuse of power, apathy of police towards prisoners and violation of human rights during search operations are all examples of acting beyond the law.
Extra judicial killings, often referred to as encounters by the police or armed forces, allow the police or armed forces to assume the role of both investigator and judge. There have been many reports of encounter killings in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kashmir, and other states. The common man is highly unsatisfied with the long delays in the justice delivery process. Very often, the accused are not convicted due to lack of evidence, and so encounters get public support. Many see encounter killings as a means of ensuring speedy justice. However, if those killed in encounters are innocent, and if the authorities start misusing their power, then rule of law, which is the fundamental principle of governance of any civilised liberal democracy, collapses.
Do police have the right to take lives? The police can injure or kill the criminal for the sole purpose of self defence, peace and order. Although there is no provision in Indian law that directly authorises the encounter of a criminal, under Section 96 of IPC every human being has the right to self-defence, which is a natural and an inherent right. Section100 of IPC, Section 46 of CrPC lays down provisions with regard to investigations in extra-judicial killings and homicide. The police personnel will be charged under Section 299 of IPC for culpable homicide, and compensation will be granted to the kin of the deceased. The Supreme Court has laid down guidelines such as recording of tip-offs: when police receive any intelligence or tip-off regarding criminal activities, it must be recorded either in writing or electronic form, followed by registering of FIR, independent probe, informing the NHRC, and sending report to court after full investigation.
Mahatma Gandhi had said, “An eye for eye makes the world blind.” Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Killings do not end crime in a society. Unless it is for self-defence, all extra-judicial killings are unacceptable in a society based on rule of law. ‘The rule by gun’ should not be preferred to the rule of law. Every human being, including the criminal, is entitled to basic human rights and due process. The need of the hour is to rebuild the lost trust in the justice delivery mechanisms in the country and fast-track the process.

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