The Supreme Court today referred to a larger bench a plea of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking direction to all states for mandatorily giving information to it about any encounter killings in their jurisdiction for the purposes of enquiry. A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and R Banumathi said it would be appropriate if a larger three-judge bench decides the issues raised in the petition. Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam and advocate Shobha Gupta, appearing for the Commission, said it is a pure question of law as the Act provided for it to enquire on its own or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf into any complaint of violation of human rights by a public servant.
The apex court said a larger bench will look into all the issues.
The court had on July 4 directed various states to file their replies in eight weeks to the NHRC’s plea seeking direction for mandatory giving information about any encounter killings. The NHRC, in its plea filed in 2014, has sought direction to state governments and police authorities that they should continue to provide the information asked for by it in accordance with the guidelines and provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, to probe the cases of encounter killings. It also sought direction to the state governments that they should not refuse to comply with the recommendations made by Commission.
The NHRC said that due to the apex court verdict of 2014 by which certain guidelines were framed, its role in such enquiries has virtually been nullified. It had said that Section 12(a) of the Act makes it a mandatory obligation upon the NHRC to inquire on its own or on a petition presented to it by a victim, into the complaints of human rights violation by a public servant. The plea also said the NHRC has issued guidelines from time to time regarding the procedure to be adopted in cases of encounter killings. “The latest guidelines were issued by the Commission in May, 2010, which provided that an information of encounter killing should be given to NHRC within 48 hours after the incident and a second report along with the post-mortem report, Magisterial Enquiry Report and forensic report should be submitted to the Commission within three months,” it said.