Supreme Court Upheld the Directions of Andhra Pradesh High Court on Police Encounters
The Hon’ble Supreme Court has upheld the judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in which the High Court gave directions with respect to the procedures to be followed in investigating police encounters. The Andhra Pradesh High Court had given direction that police encounters have to be registered as a FIR and accordingly investigated. It would not be determined during the investigation by the police that the encounter falls within the exceptions provided under IPC. The Magistrate to see the veracity of the opinion of investigating officer in the charge-sheet would critically examine the opinion in context of records, materials and evidence collected. Magistrate has the power to disregard the opinion of the charge-sheet and take cognizance under section 190 of Cr.P.C. The High Court held that the Magisterial enquiry is neither a substitute nor an alternative to the obligation to record a FIR or to conduct an investigation and if necessary, to take the measures for discovery and arrest of the offender. The obligation to disclose to the Investigating Officer (IO) the identity of police officer so involved, is absolute or it would amount to withholding information. The judgment of High Court is, however, vague at the same time on whether the IO is required to disclose the names of the police officers who are involved in the operation resulting in civilian casualty when a request for such information is lodged by an individual. The Hon’ble Supreme Court had laid down in PUCL v. State of Maharashtra (2014) the procedure to be followed while investigating cases of police encounters resulting in deaths of civilians. The Hon’ble Supreme Court held in the present case that PUCL v. State of Maharashtra (2014) will hold field in the matter of investigating police encounters. The Hon’ble Supreme Court decided that all directions of Andhra Pradesh High Court are fully covered by what has been laid down in PUCL v. State of Maharashtra (2014).