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This article is written by Tatsat Bhatt, from L. J. School of Law.


Encounter or Extra-judicial killing is a term comprehended in India since the late twentieth century to depict extrajudicial killings by the police or the military, obviously in self-protection, when they encounter assumed criminals. During the 1990s and the mid-2000s, the Mumbai Police used encounter killings to attack the city’s mafia world, and the preparation spread to different gigantic urban networks. Pundits are wary of the police inspiration driving huge numbers of these revealed episodes, and further gripe that the wide acknowledgement of the training has prompted occurrences of the police arranging counterfeit encounters to conceal the killing of suspects when they are either in care or are unarmed.

This term has come into well-known use in India since the late twentieth century on account of a high recurrence of encounter killings by police in such urban communities as Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. A portion of the killings have been controversial, and pundits have affirmed that the police made ‘counterfeit encounters’ as chances to murder suspects.

Possible reasons why police administration might not have faith in the judiciary

There have been multiple speculations in terms of how heavily the Judiciary lashes out at the Police Administration during Investigation. In most of the cases, the Police know very well, who the culprit is and are able to present him before the Court of Law to prosecute him. But since past few years, the Nation did see many cases where, it was prima facie evident, that even common man knew who the victim was, yet our Judiciary failed to deliver justice in time, for example, Nirbhaya[i] got justice after 8 Long Years. Moreover, recently, in the Tis Hazari Court[ii] Incident, Lawyers and Police conflicted at the Tis Hazari Court complex in Delhi, in which 20 police staff and a few lawyers were harmed while 17 vehicles vandalized, as per authorities and onlookers. Lawyers also stated that four of their associates were harmed, remembering one for police firing. After the issue got heated up, the Police Administration protested against the bias in Adjudication of the Violence, where the Lawyers were given immunity against the arrest and the Police Administration did not like it.

On the off chance that we take a gander at such extra-judicial killings from different points of view, it is essential to take note that such killings advance the people in question (and their groups) of the criminal demonstration, executed by the blamed just as the overall population. Taking the case of the Hyderabad encounter episode, the demise of the four charged in the Police experience brought about the festival by the group of the survivor of the alleged rape case just as social activists and public. They praised such an impediment demonstration and extolled the Police for the encounter. The center explanation for such adulation and festivity is only the absence of confidence and trust that we observe in our legal framework. The cases heap up and preliminaries take years and in some cases a long time to finish, just equity gets deferred.

A number of incidents have helped the nation understand how tedious and long the Judicial Process goes on, but is encountering an option ever? In a recent, Vikas Dubey[iii], a gangster from Kanpur, who killed 8 Police officers and ran away to Ujjain, was encountered by police while he was taken back by the UP STF Police. The cliché justification, in all high Profile cases which the police give is, ‘The Accused tried to escape and tried to snatch the gun from the Police’.

It is important to understand that all encounters have taken place at a remote place, away from the Chaos of the city. One question that arises from the perspective of the Accused in such incidents is, why would a person try to escape an entire Police Motorcade at such a remote place? If the Accused had to escape, he could have used the benefit of escaping into the crowded place where it would be difficult for the Police to catch hold of him.

All through the arrangement of occasions that prompted the encounter of this hoodlum, one inquiry stays flawless by the media and other ideological groups, that whether this encounter is really an asserted ‘murder’ according to law, generalized under the cover of an experience, or is it a legit demonstration of counter and self-protection? This article endeavors to manage such inquiries and features the perceptions of the Supreme Court through its significant decisions on Police experience cases and extralegal killings.
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Understanding the powers of police to take lives

The police power has the option to harm or murder the accused/criminal, for the sole and just reason for self-defense or where it is unavoidably essential for the support of harmony and request. In any case, nothing must be done to settle individual quarrels or with any ulterior malafide intentions, which could be obvious from the realities of each case.

On extrajudicial killings (additionally alluded to as encounters) the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Supreme Court (SC) have set down legitimate rules and methodology that must be followed so as to forestall any maltreatment of intensity by the law requirement organizations. NHRC rules in 2010 feature that if the utilization of power can’t be legitimized and the demise falls outside the purview of the previously mentioned reasons, it is a wrongdoing and the cop would be liable of culpable homicide (a demonstration which has brought about an individual’s passing however is held not to add up to kill).

Requirement for fresh guidelines

The demand for the instant killing of the accused from all corners for the nation made the general conclusion for the relinquishment of the standard of law (Article 14) that seems to have prompted this encounter. There is a widespread recognition that the standard of law isn’t giving the due equity, and that at any rate, laws should be revised to make a more grounded hindrance. Thus, there emerges a requirement for a period limited to reasonable law guidelines.

There is a method recommended by the law for criminal examination which is inserted in the Constitution under Article 21 as the Right to Life and Personal Liberty. It is key, non-derogable and is accessible to each individual. Indeed, even the State can’t abuse that right. Henceforth, it is the duty of the police, being the officials of State, to follow the Constitutional standards and maintain the Right to Life of each individual whether an honest one or a lawbreaker.

Similarly, such an encounter occurred in Andhra Pradesh in which three accused for tossing acid on the face of two ladies were encountered by the police in December 2008. Equals can be drawn between the two cases-the way where the denounced were taken to the wrongdoing spot for reproducing the wrongdoing scene and later cops shooting them down in a supposed crossfire. Consequently, to restrain such redundancies, the rules got vital.

NHRC Guidelines

In March 1997, Justice M. N. Venkatachaliah[iv] (the then CP of the NHRC), in the background of expanded protests from the people and non-administrative associations identified with examples of phony encounters by the police underlined that the police have not been consulted with any option to take away somebody’s life, aside from under two conditions:

  • In the event that the demise is caused in the activity of the privilege to private guard,
  • Section 46 of the CrPC that approves the police to utilize power, reaching out up to the cause of death, as might be important to capture the individual blamed for an offense culpable with death or detainment forever.

In the light of this thought, the NHRC asked all states and Union Territories to guarantee that police follows the accompanying arrangement of rules in instances of encounter killings:

Register: When the accountable for a Police Station gets data about the deaths in an encounter, he will record that data in the proper register.

Examination: Received data will be viewed as adequate to speculate and prompt advances must be attempted to research the important realities and conditions prompting the passing to learn, assuming any offense was submitted and by whom.

Remuneration: It can be conceded to the wards of the expired when the cops are indicted based on the consequences of the examination.

Independent Agency: Whenever the cops having a place with a similar police headquarters are the individuals from the encounter party, it is fitting that the cases for examination are alluded to some other free examination organization, for example, State CID.

Regardless of the solid foundation ensuring the human privileges of the individuals, state brutality gets legitimized through the predominant philosophy of patriotism and nationalism and through a common account that outlines the murdering as fundamental for guaranteeing the security of the state. The case identifying with experience slaughtering is administered by Major Criminal Law. Since the extrajudicial slaughtering is a unique type of homicide wherein the supposed state powers are included in this manner it is very clear that such cases ought to be taken care of with incredible consideration and alert. The phony experiences are not kidding offenses and leave exacting obligation on the State to control such episodes.

Nonetheless, we should not sideline the way that citing each veritable experience as a ‘phony’ experience will dampen the Police expert for keeping up harmony and request in the general public by guaranteeing that the hoodlums or psychological militant suspects don’t move unreservedly in the nation. The Supreme Court has emphasized the way that ‘phony’ experiences do occur and the decision government must guarantee to find a way to control the equivalent.

A.N. Mulla in a judgment of Allahabad High Court has appropriately clarified the issue when he asserted, in his words, “I state this with all awareness of others expectations: There is definitely not a solitary untamed gathering in the nation whose record of wrongdoing comes anyplace close to that of the single sorted out unit called the Indian Police Force. Cops when all is said in done, notwithstanding a couple, appear to have reached the resolution that wrongdoing can’t be researched and security can’t be safeguarded by observing the law, and it must be accomplished by overstepping or bypassing the law.”[v]

Future of criminal justice system

Encounter killings must be examined freely as they influence the authenticity of Rule of Law. There is a need to guarantee that there exists a rule of law in the general public that should be clung to by each State authority and the majority. There is a critical requirement for complete updating of the criminal equity framework and bringing out required police changes. Guaranteeing legitimate physical care of the denounced so as to forestall any assault by them on the police work force.

NHRC recognizes that there is an absence of Standard Operating Procedure to quickly react to freezing circumstances by the police. Henceforth, the need of great importance is to set down standard rules to more readily prepare the police work force and outfit them with every single pertinent ability so they can viably handle each frightful circumstance. The Commission has demanded the law implementation offices to keep human rights edge in their brain while managing captured people. For a few influenced families, demise is the main response to assault. In any case, open reactions that liken legal results and equity to prompt and snappy revenge are neither widespread nor just.

As indicated by the NHRC, despite the fact that the rising violations have made a climate of dread and agony, the loss of human life even of an accused may give an off-base message to the general public. Consequently, it is the serious obligation of the State to urge police power to deter antisocial elements, and simultaneously confine the conspicuous maltreatment of intensity. Understanding the questions have likewise been raised over the legality and propriety of the police activity prompting the discussion that ‘whether a democratic nation ought to follow the sacred standards and stick to the fair treatment of law or will it receive the proportions of retributive equity to carry moment and quick equity to the people in question’. It is high time for the Authorities to stop encounters which go against the Judicial Integrity and respect.


[i] Akshay Kumar Singh vs The State NCT Of Delhi (2020) 2 SCC 454

[ii] Tis Hazari Court violence, India Today, available at (last accessed on July 10, 2020)

[iii] Vikas Dubey Encounter, Times of India, available at (last accessed on July 10, 2020)

[iv] Full Commission Meeting, NHRC available at (last accessed on July 10, 2020)

[v] State of UP v. Mhd. Naim, 1964 SCR 363

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