Hyderabad ‘encounter’: Taliban-style justice has no place in Indian Constitution, say legal experts

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Justice P B Sawant, retired Supreme Court judge

DESCRIBING the police ‘encounter’ of four accused in the rape and murder of 27-year-old woman veterinary doctor in Hyderabad as “Taliban style justice that has no place in our Constitution”, retired Supreme Court judge, Justice P B Sawant, Friday said “such dispensation of justice reflects poorly on our judicial system”.

“Everything should happen as per the laid down law, within the framework of the law... Such Taliban-style justice is not warranted,” Justice Sawant said.

Stating that it was the wrong way of ensuring justice, Justice Sawant said the incident should be probed thoroughly to find out what exactly happened. “There is a need to find out whether the police theory is true and whether the encounter was a real one and not a fake encounter...,” he said.

Justice Sawant said that police are arguing that the accused tried to attack them with stones and sticks which provoked them to fire. “In this instance, the police could have shot the fleeing accused in the leg. Why did they shoot on the upper part of their bodies?...,” he said.

As for the celebratory mood among people across the country, Justice Sawant said the anger of the people and the celebrations are not out of place but “reflects poorly on the existing judicial system”. “We need to overhaul the system to ensure that in such heinous crimes, justice is delivered quickly and after following due process of law,” he said.

Justice Sawant said rape and murder related cases should be segregated from other crimes and get priority in courts. “There should be a deadline of around three months in which the case should conclude. If this is not done, then people will lose their faith in the judiciary,” he said.

Justice B G Kolse-Patil, a retired Bombay High Court judge, said police did not have the right to dispense justice. “Justice should be dispensed only by the courts. The Constitution has created three agencies like the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. Each has a role to play. They are inter-dependent,” he said.

Justice Kolse-Patil said even if an offence is committed in front of a judge, he cannot go to the court and convict the accused. “He will have to follow the due procedure of law. The judge will have to stand in the witness box and testify. The court will have to follow all the legal procedure before giving its ruling,” he said.

Justice Kolse-Patil said, “The judiciary is not able to deliver justice on time. The rulers, instead of strengthening the courts, are looking the other way. Instead of making courts ‘majboot’ (strong), they are making courts ‘majboor’ (helpless). This has led to frustration among justice seekers. As a result, people are celebrating out of court justice like it has happened in Hyderabad,” he said.

Justice Kolse-Patil said one particular agency should not be blamed for delay in dispensation of justice. “Sometimes the police, sometimes lawyers and even court too are responsible for delay in delivering verdicts,” he said.

Stopping short of criticising the police action, senior lawyer Ujjwal Nikam said, “The Hyderabad Police's action should make the government and the judiciary introspect and take steps for quick delivery of justice in such heinous crime. It is necessary to restore people's faith in the system, otherwise it will lead to anarchy in the country.”