The brutal rape case of Priyanka Reddy (Disha) had raised concerns about the similarities to the Nirbhaya case of 2012, wherein not just women but all people throughout the country were raising their voices against the bouts of how unsafe India had become as a country for women. With various online strikes to silent marches, the citizens displayed immense dissatisfaction towards the slow judicial system but more importantly the lack of awareness of such crimes against women and their right over their bodily autonomy. With four men getting caught for the rape on the very day of the gruesome crime, these four accused men were encountered by the Cyberabad police within four days of the date of the commission of the offence. Where on one hand, most of the people are glorifying the encounter terming the concerned police as their hero, the Judiciary and the National Human Rights Commission have a different opinion on the same.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) reported that all the four accused were taken to the place of crime for a re-construction as part of the investigation. It is reported that one of them signalled to the others, possibly to escape and they further tried to snatch weapons from the police, and only this is when the police started to fire at the accused persons, resulting in their death. The NHRC has suo motu taken cognisance of the same sending their investigation team through the Direction General of Investigation, who would prepare a detailed report about the issue at hand. The Commission has taken serious note of the fact that the arrested persons were only accused of the gruesome crime and had not yet been convicted by a competent court. The NHRC release has further emphasised that if the accused were found guilty, they were to be punished as per the existing law in furtherance to the directions of the court. The Commission goes on to opine that the encounter killing would give a wrong message to society.
“The Commission is aware that growing incidents of sexual assault and violence against the women has created an atmosphere of fear and anger amongst the public at large but loss of human lives even of a person arrested by the police under law, in such circumstances, would definitely give a wrong message to the society.“
The Supreme Court too has been moved against the concerned police encounter in the Disha rape and murder case. Two PILs have been moved by Advocates GS Mani and Pradeep Kumar Yadav; and another by Advocate ML Sharma who have registered objection to the extra-judicial killing of the four accused who had not been proven guilty. The petition filed by Mani and Kumar emphasises that while no one will support those involved in the rape of women, one cannot turn blind eye to the fact that the police has taken the law into their own hands and carried out the encounter, without conducting a proper investigation, collecting evidences, framing charges and without bringing them before the court for punishment.”
The petitioners have added,
“Such fake encounter killing was conducted only to divert the public reaction over sensational gang rape and murder cases against innocent young girls and may be to protect the real culprits … No one including the investigating agency like police has right to punish any accused without due process of law. The Court alone after applying all the procedure and law and affording an opportunity all the right of free and fair trial and hearing can impose punishment of imprisonment or death sentence. Here the respondent police have become hero in the public domain as they have killed the rapists.”
Thus, although we cannot disregard the fact that the administration of justice in our country is very slow, and encounters of culprits indulging in such crime may give satisfaction up to certain extent, the State through its functionaries cannot be emotionally driven or directly work according to the impulsive opinions of the masses, as we have a proper procedure that needs to be followed. Moreover, rather than pandering in the alleged illegal killing and supporting and glorifying the same, the State should devise a better procedure for speedy disposal of such cases.
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