Stating that fake encounters have no place in the “legal system governed by the rule of law”, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday upheld life imprisionment awarded by a trial court to seven policemen of Uttarakhand for killing a 22-year-old MBA student in a fake encounter in 2009. The High Court, however, set aside the life term awarded to 10 other policemen in the case.
Ranbir Singh, a resident of Ghaziabad, was gunned down on July 3, 2009, in Ladpur forest area in Dehradun. The court did not accept the police claim that they shot Singh as he was fleeing after assaulting a policeman on duty for the visit of the President and snatching his service weapon. The court noted that public humiliation of the policeman by the deceased after an exchange of words, as stated by witnesses, triggered the shooting, which was later dubbed by police as an encounter.
The High Court upheld the life sentence awarded to Sub-Inspectors Santosh Kumar Jaiswal, Gopal Dutt Bhatt, Rajesh Bisht, Neeraj Kumar, Nitin Chauhan, Chander Mohan Singh Rawat and constable Ajit Singh. It, however, acquitted constables Satbir Singh, Sunil Saini, Chander Pal, Saurabh Nautiyal, Nagender Rathi, Vikas Chander Baluni, Sanjay Rawat and Manoj Kumar, and drivers Mohan Singh Rana and Inderbhan Singh, stating that circumstances do not prove their “culpability”.
This apart, Jaspal Singh Gosain, then head operator at the city control room, who was sentenced to two years in jail by the trial court for framing incorrect record with intent to save person(s) from punishment, was also aquitted.
The victim’s father Ravinder Pal Singh moved the Supreme Court in 2009 after seven of the accused were granted bail by Uttarakhand High Court. The bail order was subsequently cancelled and the apex court transfered the case to Delhi after a separate plea was filed by the victim’s father.