OPEN LETTER TO HONOURABLE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT ON THE RECENT POLICE ENCOUNTER IN HYDERABAD

13 December 2019

Dear Honourable Members of Parliament,

We, a group of retired civil servants deeply committed to the values and guarantees of the Constitution of India, are appalled by the recent incident of the gunning down by the police of four men accused of raping, killing  and burning a young veterinary doctor in Hyderabad. While the crimes of rape and murder were truly horrific, and we condemn them in the strongest terms, we were equally aghast by the widespread clamour among the public, and calls from the media and responsible persons to castrate, publicly execute, hang or lynch the persons responsible for the offence. Even some Members of Parliament demanded instant and kangaroo justice.

It is quite possible that the response of the Hyderabad police to kill the four accused in an early morning ‘encounter’ on 6 December was a result of this clamour. Criticised for poor policing and pressured to show quick results, they could have decided to take the easy way out.  The actions of the police, prima facie, do not inspire confidence .How was it possible for a team of ten armed police officers to be overpowered by four men who had been in the police lock- up for several hours and without weapons? Why could not the accused have been handcuffed? Why could they not have been shot at to wound but not to kill when they tried to escape? Several retired police officers have gone on record stating that the police version of the encounter is not believable. And at least one Minister of the Telangana government is reported to have said that the orders for the extra- judicial killing came from the very top!

Article 21 of the Constitution says no person can be deprived of his or her life without due process of law being followed. Due process is essential not only to ascertain that the persons arrested are actually guilty and if so, to what degree, but also to know whether or not the persons arrested are the real criminals and not some persons rounded up by the police to satisfy the outburst of public anger. The fundamental premise of our jurisprudence is that a person is innocent until proved guilty.

A kind of blood lust seems to have swamped India in recent years. Lynching of persons accused of cattle smuggling, of thieving, of child lifting, of witchcraft, in fact of any kind of crime at all, is becoming increasingly common and the Indian public does not turn a hair when such incidents are reported. Shockingly, many of these gory incidents of lynching are even video- recorded and widely distributed. More and more people in India seem to be in favour of this crude and instant justice. Unfortunately, this is getting encouragement from the statements made and actions taken by some of the MPs both within and outside Parliament. But, as the Chief Justice of India has said, “justice loses its character if it becomes revenge”.

The public offering garlands and sweets to the policemen responsible for the encounter killings in Hyderabad is of a piece with this. When MPs and MLAs demand summary justice, the common man will believe that that is what is desirable and will have no difficulty in seeing killings by policemen as laudable. It will not cross their minds that perhaps those men were not the real culprits, or perhaps all of them were not equally guilty. Everything gets drowned in the chorus of Kill! Kill! Kill! But to quote Barry Eisler ,“Beware that , when fighting monsters, you do not become a monster yourself.”

It is not as if it is impossible to deliver justice speedily. Swifter investigation by the police and quicker and continuous trials in the courts are the key. Without this, the police and the people could be tempted to take the law into their own hands and act as judge and executioner.

As MPs, you can ensure these changes are brought about. You can stop calling for lynching and summary executions; you can also prevail upon your parties not to give tickets to people who are accused of rape and murder. Without such actions, your speeches will be seen as hypocritical.  We hope to see you work to bring about the meaningful changes necessary to curb such crimes in the future.

Yours faithfully,

(65 signatories, as below)

 

1. Anita Agnihotri IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Social Justice Empowerment, GoI
2. Shafi Alam IPS (Retd.) Former Director General, National Crime Records Bureau, GoI
3. S.P. Ambrose IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI
4. Anand Arni R&AW (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
5. N. Bala Baskar IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Adviser (Finance), Ministry of External Affairs, GoI
6. Gopalan Balagopal IAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
7. Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Coal, GoI
8. Sharad Behar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
9. Madhu Bhaduri IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Portugal
10. Meeran C Borwankar IPS (Retd.) Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI
11. Sundar Burra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
12. R. Chandramohan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Secretary, Transport and Urban Development, Govt. of NCT of Delhi
13. Anna Dani IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
14. Vibha Puri Das IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI
15. P.R. Dasgupta IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI
16. Pradeep K. Deb IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI
17. Nitin Desai IES (Retd.) Former Secretary and Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, GoI
18. Keshav Desiraju IAS (Retd.) Former Health Secretary, GoI
19. M.G. Devasahayam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
20. Sushil Dubey IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Sweden
21. Arif Ghauri IRS (Retd.) Former Governance Adviser, DFID, Govt. of the United Kingdom (on deputation)
22. Gourisankar Ghosh IAS (Retd.) Former Mission Director, National Drinking Water Mission, GoI
23. S.K. Guha IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development, GoI
24. Meena Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
25. Ravi Vira Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India
26. Wajahat Habibullah IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, GoI and Chief Information Commissioner
27. Deepa Hari IRS (Resigned)  
28. Sajjad Hassan IAS (Retd.) Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur
29. Najeeb Jung IAS (Retd.) Former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi
30. Rahul Khullar IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
31. K. John Koshy IAS (Retd.) Former State Chief Information Commissioner, West Bengal
32. Brijesh Kumar IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
33. Sudhir Kumar IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Central Administrative Tribunal
34. P.K. Lahiri IAS (Retd.) Former Executive Director, Asian Development Bank
35. Subodh Lal IPoS (Resigned) Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI
36. Harsh Mander IAS (Retd.) Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
37. Aditi Mehta IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
38. Shivshankar Menon IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary and Former National Security Adviser
39. Sonalini Mirchandani IFS (Resigned) GoI
40. Sunil Mitra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
41. Deb Mukharji IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal
42. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
43. P.G.J. Nampoothiri IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Gujarat
44. Surendra Nath IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Finance Commission, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
45. Amitabha Pande IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
46. S.Y. Quraishi IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Election Commissioner
47. C. Babu Rajeev IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, GoI
48. K. Sujatha Rao IAS (Retd.) Former Health Secretary, GoI
49. M.Y. Rao IAS (Retd.)  
50. Satwant Reddy IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, GoI

 

51. Deepak Sanan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
52. G. Sankaran IC&CES (Retd.) Former President, Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal
53. Shyam Saran IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary and Former Chairman, National Security Advisory Board
54. Ardhendu Sen IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
55. Ashok Kumar Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia
56. Navrekha Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Indonesia
57. Raju Sharma IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
58. Jawhar Sircar

 

IAS (Retd.)

 

Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI, & former CEO, Prasar Bharati
59. Narendra Sisodia IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
60. Sanjivi Sundar IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Surface Transport, GoI
61. Parveen Talha IRS (Retd.) Former Member, Union Public Service Commission
62. Thanksy Thekkekera IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Minorities Development, Govt. of Maharashtra
63. Geetha Thoopal IRAS (Retd.) Former General Manager, Metro Railway, Kolkata
64. Hindal Tyabji IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
65. Ramani Venkatesan IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra

 

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