Spread the love for law

About the Author:

Mayuri is a law student in Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Law University.


Human beings have been bestowed with basic rights and liberties regardless. The state or the government is the sole power to advance and ensure that such rights of its residents aren’t violated. The state authority principally incorporates the police department, the military department, the judiciary, and the civic administration. However, shockingly, the uniform men while carrying out their endorsed responsibilities often violate certain rights. Among the most frightful human rights infringement, stands extrajudicial killing. In the following article, we will be delineating myriad contours of the extra-judicial killings and the issues that run parallel to them. 

Extrajudicial killing is an unlawful execution. It is a dismissal of basic human rights which is the right to life. However, there is no legitimate meaning of extrajudicial killing. It is normally depicted as an unlawful killing of an individual by any government authority or individual with no endorsement of official actions or government request.[1]

The significance of extrajudicial itself is something not done in the official courtroom and against is the law. The idea of this demonstration is normally unlawful and is for the most part done by the state government or different specialists of state like the police power, equipped power, and so on the dangerous disciplines incorporate deaths caused by strafing, assassinations, indiscriminate firing, slaughter, and mass killings.

Right to Life is the most intrinsic right which all creatures possess by the virtue of their very being. This right is bestowed to us since the time of our birth as the most basic human right. Nobody, in the entire world can wither away this right from us. However, as the crimes against humanity increased, cruel punishments to punish the barbaric criminals were evolved including life imprisonment and death sentences and of course, next followed the age-old debate that which is more humane- life imprisonment or death decree. But whatsoever be the outcome, with the evolution of laws, the Courts were granted the power to take away the life of the accused if proven guilty (i.e., criminal) only after following the due process of law.


The recent killing of gangster Vikas Dubey by the Uttar Pradesh Police put the spotlight back on the encounter or executive killings. Vikas Dubey, the main accused of killing 8 policemen on 2 July,2020 in Kanpur, was killed within 24 hours of his arrest.[2] While trying to escape from Ujjain to Kanpur, the most wanted Vikas Dubey was caught in an encounter in STF. Four police personnel have also been injured during this period. The vehicle used by the police to bring Vikas Dubey to Kanpur crashed into the street. During this, Vikas Dubey tried to escape by taking advantage of the opportunity. He also snatched the pistol from the injured policeman. On the spot, Vikas Dubey’s encounter with STF started and he died after being shot.

In Om Prakash v. State of Jharkhand (2012) 12 SCC 72, the Supreme court observed, “Trigger, happy police personnel, who liquidate criminals and project the incident as an encounter, they must know that punishment of gallows awaits them.[3]

Despite such judicial denouncements of extra-judicial killings by uniformed personnel, keep occurring. The new killings of the 4 accused in the Hyderabad rape case in an alleged encounter have created divided opinions among the public at large. On one hand, we understand the feelings connected to the fierce case, however on the legitimate viewpoint, the question included is whether encounter killing is justifiable or not?

The Constitution of India has guaranteed certain rights and safeguards which the State ought to maintain for every citizen of sovereign India. Article 21 is the most remarkable arrangements in the Constitution and is a piece of the key rights.

Article 21 states that: “No individual will be denied of his life or personal freedom except as per procedures established by law.”[4] The ‘procedure established by law’ referenced in the Article should be reasonable, just and sensible. It stresses that no individual will be denied of his life and personal freedom besides as per the procedure established by law. In this way, there is an implied guarantee against torture or assault by the State or its law enforcement agencies. When police play the role of judge and executioner by eliminating accused persons through staged encounters, there is no following of procedure established by law. This leads to a direct violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.

In Prakash Kadam & Etc. v. Ramprasad Vishwananath Gupta & Anr, a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, went to the extent of stating that the death penalty must be awarded to police men found guilty of committing murders in the guise of encounters.


In the legal world, there is a widely celebrated maxim, ‘audi alteram partem’, which means that ‘listen to the other side’. The purpose of this principle gets denied in the case of encounter killings where the ‘other party’ is being shot dead before reaching the trial room. Encounter killings in India are as old as Indian Independence, the corrupt policemen in order to maintain their office-record to get a speedy promotion or sometimes in their capacity to act as personal assistants of the culprits and politicians initiate the encounter killings in the name of ‘recreating the crime space’. This in itself is a crime as the ‘accused’ is a mere suspect in the eyes of the law. He becomes a ‘criminal’ post his pronouncement of judgement in the courts of law where he is proven guilty.

Article 21 of the Constitution of India [5] grants its citizens the Right to Life and Personal Liberty. This right comes with a clause of taking away the life of a person only after following the due procedures of law. Article 22[6] talks about the provisions of arrest. Despite this, time and again these laws have been infringed.

In India, the cases of extra-judicial killings are very rampant. There is a plethora of barbaric testimonies where the Human Rights have been outrageously violated leaving behind crippled bodies and wounded psyches.


  • In 1993, the Commission had given general rules that every case of custodial death should be insinuated to it within 24 hours.
  • Further, the post mortem reports, examination demands, and other related documentation were to be shipped off the human rights watchdog to ascertain its reliability within two months of the episode.
  • The procedure of the Commission was established after a protest from the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Union asserting a progression of phony encounters in the State to dispose of people recognized as Maoists or individuals from the People’s War Group.
  • If death is prime facie discovered to be a case of death that occurred unlawfully, the Commission would give compensation to the casualty’s family and punish the deviant State and its officials.
  • In 1997, then, at that point NHRC executive M N Venkatachalaiah, in a letter addressed to chief ministers of all States, had stressed that a policeman, whenever found liable for a custodial death, would have similar defences accessible in law that are accessible to the common person, and would have no unique protection.
  • Essentially, this implied that for every case of custodial death, the concerned officials would be being investigated, and their activities would not comprise an offense in just two conditions: a) on the off chance that they have killed the person to protect themselves and, b) if utilization of force reaching out to death is essential for making an arrest.
  • An FIR is lodged under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code [7] which punishes at culpable homicide. The Indian Evidence Act [8] puts the burden of proof on the defence — the police in this case — to prove that the offence was not committed.
  • Whenever the police officials, belonging to the same police station are the members of the encounter party, it is fitting that the cases for examination are alluded to some other autonomous examination office, like State CID.


The Supreme Court Bench of chief justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Rohinton F. Nariman in 2014 outlined a 16-point guideline to follow in cases of death or grievous injury in police encounters.[9] The guidelines are as follows:

  1. Tip-offs about crimes should be recorded either in a hard copy or electronic form.

  • If as per a hint the police use guns and these outcomes in the death of an individual, then, at that point a FIR initiating legitimate criminal examination should be registered.

  • The examination concerning such death will be finished by CID group which needs to satisfy minimum 8 investigation requirements.

  • A mandatory authoritative enquiry into all cases of encounter deaths.

  • The NHRC or State commission should be immediately informed of the encounter death.

  • Medical aid to injured casualty/criminal and a magistrate should record his statement.

  • Ensure forwarding FIR and police journal sections to court immediately.

  • Expeditious and appropriate trial.

  • Informing closest relative of the dead alleged criminal.


The United Nations Human Rights Commission maintains a report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings or arbitrary killings. The Special Rapporteur works for the most part based on data given by 1997/61 it was mentioned to complete appropriate assessments of extrajudicial killing circumstances, to exchange better dialogues with government, give uncommon consideration to unlawful executions of individuals doing peaceful activities, killings of youngsters and ladies, and so forth in India.

Amnesty International is a worldwide working nongovernmental organization, which is based in London. It is a development of 7 million individuals who stand against any injustice. They investigate the abuses by the government and other powerful groups. expose them and stand for change.


“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” [10]

There is no doubt in acknowledging the fact that the extra-judicial killings grossly violate the Human Rights of an individual. There is no harm in the want of speedy justice and timely litigation, but depriving the accused of clarifying his stance, perpetuates nothing but injustice. The police personnel should embrace a guardian mindset and avoid militarization of police. They should use reasonable amount of force that justifies the situation. The trend of settling down to encounters in the name of recreation of crime scene is deeply discouraged. Speedy conviction is an end but extra judicial killing is no means to it. 

As said, ‘A wrong cannot be justified by another wrong’, it is high time and the officials have to wake up from this somnolence. What we need is a strong act protecting the right to life of people in the country, a must change in the acts which provide powers to officials and positive shift in the mentality of the powerful groups as well as making people aware about their rights.


[1] A Short Study on Extrajudicial Killings, available at: https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-2777-a-short-study-on-extrajudicial-killings.html (Last visited on September 19,2021)

[3] Om Prakash v. State of Jharkhand (2012) 12 SCC 72

[4] Article 21, Constitution of India, 26 January 1950, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b5e20.html (Last visited on 19 September 2021)

[5] ibid.

[6] Article 22, Constitution of India, 26 January 1950, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b5e20.html (Last visited on 19 September 2021)

[7] S. 302, The Indian Penal Code, 1960. Punishment for murder. —Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

[8] S. 8, The Indian Evidence Act, 1872

[9] Supreme Court cracks down on police ‘encounter’ killings, available at: https://www.livemint.com/Politics/bUkCWSiYJDA1kVadY1hDpO/Supreme-Court-cracks-down-on-police-encounter-killings.html (Last visited on 19 September 2021)

[10] Universal Declaration of Human Rights,1948, Article

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *