Manoj Vashisht ‘Encounter’; Magisterial Enquiry welcome

Manoj Vashisht ‘Encounter’; Magisterial Enquiry welcome

The Special Cell of the Delhi Police is yet again involved in an ‘encounter’ killing.

News stories on the evening of 16 May (Saturday) reported that one Manoj Vashisht, wanted in cases of fraud and cheating had been killed by the Special Cell in an encounter in a busy restaurant in West Delhi.  The police version follows the standard line that Vashisht had taken out his revolver forcing the Special Cell operatives to fire him down in self-defence.  The NHRC guidelines, as well as the Supreme Court ruling in the matter of Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties & Anr vs State of Maharshatra & Ors, make it incumbent upon the policemen to prove that they fired in self-defence; that the force they used was necessary and proportional to the threat they faced.

We welcome the Delhi government’s announcement of a magisterial probe into the encounter. However, given the past experience of magisterial enquiries in Delhi, the enquiry must be:

1)   Time bound

2)   Allegations made by Vashisht’s widow that the Special Cell had demanded money from him, must be enquired into

3)   Its proceedings must be made public immediately upon conclusion

Moreover, the Police Commissioner must also ensure that the Special Cell cooperates with the enquiry. In the past, enquiry officer investigating the Sonia Vihar encounter of 2006 had complained to the NHRC that the non-cooperation from the police was delaying the enquiry. Delhi Police’s own track record in initiating internal departmental enquiries in cases of encounter killings has been dismal, and prosecution of erring policemen near nil. This cycle of impunity needs to end.

Released by Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association

18th May 2015