SC plea seeks independent-panel probe into Atiq-Ashraf killings, encounters

In democracy, police cannot become mode of delivering final justice or punishing authority; power of punishment rests with judiciary, says lawyer’s plea

Atiq Ahmad murder, Uttar Pradesh, sealed envelop, sealed letter
Apart from the brothers' deaths, the plea has also sought an inquiry into the 183 encounters that have taken place in UP since 2017 | Photo: ANI/Twitter

A lawyer on Sunday (April 16) filed a plea in Supreme Court, seeking a probe into the killings of gangster-politician Atiq Ahmad and his brother Ashraf by an independent committee headed by a former apex court judge. The brothers were shot dead while in police escort the day before.

The plea, filed by advocate Vishal Tiwari, also sought an inquiry into the 183 encounters that have taken place in Uttar Pradesh since 2017.

Ahmad (60) and Ashraf, who were in handcuffs, were shot dead by three men posing as journalists when they were answering reporters’ queries while being escorted by policemen to a medical college in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj for a check-up on Saturday night.

183 encounter deaths in 6 years

Just hours before the shooting, the last rites of Ahmad’s son Asad, who, along with one of his associates, was gunned down in a police encounter in Jhansi on April 13, were held.

Uttar Pradesh Police had said on Friday that it had gunned down 183 alleged criminals in encounters in the six years of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s government, including Asad and his accomplice.

Also read: Who are Atiq Ahmad’s killers, who posed as journos, shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’?

The plea sought the creation of an independent expert committee to probe the killings of Atiq and Ashraf.

“Issue guidelines/directions to safeguard the rule of law by constituting an Independent Expert Committee under the Chairmanship of former Supreme Court justice to inquire into the 183 encounters which had occurred since 2017 as stated by Uttar Pradesh Special Director General of Police (Law and Order) and also to inquire into the police custody murder of Atiq and Ashraf,” it said.

“Threat to democracy”

Referring to Atiq’s killing, the plea said “such actions by police are a severe threat to democracy and rule of law and lead to police state”.

“In a democratic society the police cannot be allowed to become a mode of delivering final justice or to become a punishing authority. The power of punishment is only vested in the judiciary,” the plea stated.

Also read: Atiq, brother buried in Prayagraj; shooters sent to 14-day judicial custody

The plea said extrajudicial killings or fake police encounters have no place under the law. When the police turn “daredevils, then the entire rule of law collapses and generates fear in the mind of people against police which is very dangerous for democracy and this also results into further crime,” it stated.

(With agency inputs)