Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Connaught Place shootout cops get life

We depend on policemen to act as law-enforcers in society. In addition, in most countries, citizens can depend on policemen to help them out when they land in some kind of trouble or need help. However, mention that to people in India, and a vast majority will laugh, cry, and look at you with amazement. And no wonder, when policemen behave like law makers on their own.
I remember when the case of the shootout in Connaught Place first burst in public view, there was immense shock that a police team could fire many tens of rounds (34) into a car in the middle of the city, and kill 2 innocent people. And what was the defense of the police party ? They had information that these people were indeed a dreaded gangster, and so that justified them using deadly force without being provoked. You know what would have happened if these people were indeed gangsters and not innocent people ? There would have been a lot of justification of the attack, and nary a word of caution.
And that is a problem with letting police get the authority to use deadly force with a valid justification. The checks and balances get blown away, and you see more of such actions happening. In addition, it fosters a feeling of being able to kill criminals as a solution (and something that has passed down to the normal public in terms of public lynchings being more common nowadays); and of course, if a criminal knows that he does not have much chance of surviving an encounter with police, he will be more inclined to take more desperate actions.
In this case, justice has been served (although it took 10 years for this case to get resolved), and the accused have been sentenced.

A Delhi court on Wednesday awarded life term to suspended ACP S S Rathi and nine other policemen, convicted for killing two innocent businessmen in a fake encounter at Connaught Place ten years ago. "I sentence them to life imprisonment," Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Kumar said, pronouncing the quantum of punishment to ten policemen including the then Assistant Commissioner of Police.
During the trial, the policemen had taken the plea that the businessmen were killed under "mistaken identity" of Yaseen, a dreaded Uttar Pradesh gangster and his associate. The court, even after allowing their plea, had found them guilty, saying "I am convinced with the prosecution argument that even if, instead of Goyal and Singh, the wanted criminal Yaseen would have been killed, the accused still be held guilty."

Seems a very valid argument. Essentially, even a criminal has rights, and the police force has no authority to take deadly action to try and kill a criminal, except in self-defense or when the criminal is trying to escape during an encounter.

Labels: , , , , ,

If you like these writings, you can subscribe to this feed to get new postsSite Feed Site Feed

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:43 AM