New Delhi, October 1, 2023:
In a significant development, the State of Uttar Pradesh has complied with a Supreme Court directive issued on August 11, 2023, in the case of Vishal Tiwari v. Union of India. The Supreme Court had instructed the submission of an Affidavit detailing the stage of investigation or trial in cases specified by the petitioner, as well as the consideration of existing reports and recommendations regarding police encounters.
Concerns Raised by the Petitioner
The petitioner, Vishal Tiwari, expressed concerns regarding alleged police encounters leading to the deaths of criminals in Uttar Pradesh. Specifically, he highlighted encounters involving individuals such as Prem Prakash Pandey & Atul Dubey, Amar Dubey, Prabhat Mishra & Praveen Dubey, Vikas Dubey, Asad, Atiq Ahmad, and his brother Ashraf. The Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar, was hearing two petitions filed by Advocate Vishal Tiwari and Aisha Noori, Atiq Ahmed’s sister, seeking a court-monitored probe into these encounters.
State’s Response in the Status Report
The State of Uttar Pradesh, in its detailed status report, asserted that each of the seven incidents highlighted by the petitioner had been thoroughly investigated following directions and guidelines set by the Supreme Court. They claimed that, after completing investigations, no fault had been found on the part of the police in cases where investigations had been completed.
The status report, filed by UP Standing Counsel Ruchira Goeland endorsed by an affidavit from Amitabh Yash, ADG Special Task Force, UP Police, provided specific information on several incidents.
Investigations into Incidents Related to Vikas Dubey Gang
Regarding the Bikru incident involving the Vikas Dubey Gang, the state formed a 3-member Judicial Inquiry Commission headed by Dr. Justice (Retd.) B.S. Chauhan. This commission investigated the incident and the subsequent deaths of VikasDubey and some of his associates. Their report, dated 11.04.2021, categorically found no fault with the actions of the police in these cases.
The report stated, “The evidence relating to the sequence of events which ultimately resulted in the death of accused VikasDubey does not raise any kind of suspicion or doubt about the genuineness of the police version.” The Supreme Court had accepted the Inquiry Commission’s report in its order dated July 22, 2022, stating that the inquiry was conducted transparently and in the public domain.
Inquiry into the Alleged Encounter of Asad Ahmad and Mohd. Ghulam
The State reported that after thorough investigations, no lapses were found in the police version of the events related to the encounter of Asad Ahmad and Mohd. Ghulam. The magisterial inquiry’s report, which concluded on September 2, 2023, also found no fault with the police.
Investigation into the Murder of Atiq Ahmad and Ashraf
The State informed the court that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) consisting of three members was constituted to investigate the murder of Atiq Ahmad and Ashraf. Substantial progress has been made In this case. The affidavit mentioned, “It was found that the accused individuals…committed the crime with common intention.” Based on evidence, charges were filed against them on July 12, 2023. The Chief Judicial Magistrate of Prayagraj has taken cognizance of the case, and the next hearing is scheduled for October 3, 2023.
The State emphasized that it is leaving no stone unturned to ensure a fair and impartial investigation into these incidents, including the murder of Atiq Ahmad and Ashraf. They labeledthe sweeping allegations against them as false and unjustified.
Ongoing Judicial Commission Inquiry
Apart from the ongoing investigations into specific cases, the State of UP established a 5-member judicial commission led by Justice (Retd.) Dilip Babasaheb Bhonsle. This commission is conducting a comprehensive inquiry, with its members scheduled to meet again on October 8, 2023.
The State’s report also outlined its commitment to adhering to various court orders and commission recommendations, emphasizing transparency and accountability in law enforcement practices. It highlighted key measures, such as the implementation of PUCL Guidelines, regular monitoring of police self-defense actions, and systematic reporting to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Lastly, Uttar Pradesh’s submission of a detailed status report to the Supreme Court reflects its commitment to transparency and accountability in investigations related to police encounters. While allegations have been made, the State asserts that it Is diligently following legal procedures and adhering to court orders to ensure a fair and impartial inquiry into the incidents in question. The ongoing judicial commission inquiry further demonstrates the State’s dedication to addressing these complex issues.