The administration of justice is one of the most essential function of the State for a due safeguard of the rights and lives of its people. The key functionaries in this system are police, prosecution, defense counsels, and courts and corrections. Each of these functionaries has defined powers and functions and is subject to specific rules and procedures. This brings reasonability and accountability in their functioning which ultimately solidifies a justice system of a country.
Talking of the police, the preamble of the Indian Police Act, 1861 describes police as an “efficient instrument for the prevention and detection of crime”. However, the recent incident relating to the encounter of accused Vikas Dubey at least at present appears neither prevention nor detection. The name assumingly needs no introduction in light of recent events. Vikas Dubey was accused in 64 cases including those of murder, abduction, extortion. The recent most being Kanpur Cops Killing case wherein 8 Uttar Pradesh police officials were killed when the police went to arrest him. After absconding the place of crime amongst others, on 09.07.2020, he was arrested from Kal Bhairav Temple in Ujjain wherein he surrendered to the police.
The apprehension of an encounter of this main accused was in the air since his run after the incident. His act of surrendering in the temple was thought as a smart and safe move to avert any possible encounter, including a fake encounter. However, an act which on 09.07.2020 appeared to avert encounter or fake encounter and assure safety to his life, turned enfeeble by the morning of 10.07.2020. He was encountered on the outskirt of city Kanpur while he was being brought to Kanpur from Ujjain. It is the case of the police that he was encountered when the vehicle in which he was being transmitted toppled and he “attempted to flee” after snatching a pistol from one of the police officials.
Presently, though the case of the police appears to be uncorroborated by the surrounding circumstances yet it would be not appropriate for the author to comment on the veracity of case of either side as an investigation by the Special Investigation Team is still ongoing.
However, it would be appropriate to point out several facts and issues likely to be involved and play a critical role in determining the veracity of the case of the police. Given the suspicious story and circumstances, on the factual front, an answer to several questions will play a very critical role in the determination of the truthfulness of the case of police. Some of these questions may be briefly noted as follows:
How many police officials accompanied the accused in the transit? How did the vehicle topple? What would the report of an expert say on the possibilities of the toppling of the vehicle? How many police officials were travelling along with him in the same vehicle? Did anyone sustain injuries from the toppling of the vehicle including Vikas Dubey? What does the medical report of each person say about the nature and cause of the injuries sustained? Has the weapon snatched by the accused been sealed? Does such weapon show fingerprints of Vikas Dubey on the pistol? Why was his leg not aimed in all four shots with which he was hit? Did the bullet enter his body from the back or chest? What does the site plan of the place of occurrence indicate? Has any bullet even been fired from the pistol snatched by the accused Vikas Dubey? If it was a fake encounter, why was the time of 7:00 in the morning chosen instead of any time at night? Is there any direct and independent witness to the incident? If no, what does the ratio of vehicles usually be on the said road? When was the transit of vehicles stopped on the road? When was the sound of fire heard? How did the misfortune and coincidence happen only with the accused and co-accused of this case and that too within such a short time, particularly when the apprehensions of the encounter were so high? Why was one of the houses of Vikas Dubey bulldozed when the investigation was still pending?
In addition to them, questions will arise from the documents like site plan, medical reports and the witnesses produced will play a critical role in determining the veracity of the case presented by the police.
On the legal front, the question of why was no transit remand order taken from the Court in Ujjain has been raised. Though the explanation of the police for this would be a relevant fact but interestingly, obtaining of a transit remand has often been held as non-mandatory and mere irregularity. For example, the Jharkhand High Court in Ram Bilash Sahu vs. Union Of India [2012 SCC OnLine Jhar 932] observed that “non-compliance of provisions contained u/s 76 of the Code, in such circumstance can only be an irregularity which shall not be a ground to declare the remand illegal” (para. 13). Further, in Surendra Sardar vs. State of Bihar & Ors. [(2000 (3) PLJR 238] the Court observed as follows:
“It is not a condition precedent or a valid order of remand that the accused must at the time of remand, be in valid custody under a valid remand order. If on the date of hearing of the application the remand is valid, then no writ of habeas corpus can be issued only on the ground that at earlier point of time the remand was invalid.” (para. 6)
Thus, in the present case, the non-taking of transfer remand may be considered as mere irregularity as had the accused been produced before the jurisdictional Court, his custody would have otherwise been treated as valid.
Having noted this, the author opines that the encounter which presently seems to have been staged could have been averted by due diligence of the jurisdictional Court, police official, and/or of any advocate. Taking of transit remand could have at least secured the transit of the accused from Ujjain to Kanpur. Moreover, the accused or any person on his behalf could have pleaded for the order of putting handcuffs and leg cuffs to the accused. This would have in the opinion of the author nullified the story of attempted escape by the accused. But it appears that the accused, the jurisdictional judge or any other advocate or official for that matter did not anticipate that the accused still has his life on risk once he was in police custody after a surrender.
However, in addition to the above-discussed factual and legal matrix, the series of incidents and the response of the police to the entire incident also posts some other questions and thoughts on the existing criminal justice system and political system of the country. First, whether the media and the police have different responsibilities towards society when eight police officials killed vis-àvis killing of any number of civilians of the country.
Second, the encounter at least at present appears to be an ecstatic and emotional response to the killing of their colleagues despite them, either under political pressure or otherwise, having let these people grow and perpetrate in this system to such an extent that some of their officials continuously conspired against the attempt of their colleagues to arrest the accused. The proverb, “as you show, so you shall reap” sadly appears to befit the situation except for the politicians if any were involved. However, the encounter, whether staged or inadvertent, cannot make the people turn a blind eye to this existing dysfunctionality in the police and political structure of the country.
Last, and most importantly, the incidence of encounter particularly if assumed to be fake and staged mocks the functioning of the judicial system, dwindle the faith in the courts and “due procedure established by law”, and override “rule of law”. However, despite the issue of delay and pendency in courts, such encounters or at least encounters which could be averted cannot be justified.
The incident, on the one hand, gives a sense of inefficiencies in the Indian judicial system where a delay is a common phenomenon, on the other hand, it also shows the dysfunctionality of the police and political system. Such extra-judicial exercise of power in the hands of police posits a great threat. It may at present appear fascinating exercise of the police power but history shows that such an exercise of the power or any neglect or excuse thereof has often been misused and degraded justice mechanism of any country. While talking of separation of powers, Montesquieu in his book ‘The Spirit of Laws’ (1748) observed that if the executive power i.e. police and the judicial power are taken by a single hand, the executive acts would lose accountability and lead to arbitrariness. It is in light of this that it is incumbent on the Court to take a stern cognizance of the situation and circumstances and get the incident duly investigated. An overseeing of such an exercise of power would corrupt the justice mechanism in the long run.
It is true that henceforward encounters of hardcore criminals by the police will not only be a norm and in vogue. But any light treatment of this incident would be a slow poison to the administration of the criminal justice system in India. Presently, the surrounding circumstances do suggest it to be a staged encounter and at least attack and question the efficiency of the existing criminal justice system in India. In closing, the author suggests that a strict recognition of the implementation of guidelines noted and framed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in People’s Union for Civil Liberties & Anr. vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors. [(2014) 10 SCC 635] for encounters and investigation thereof should be put in place and acted upon including in the present appalling and suspected encounter of main accused Vikas Dubey.
Adv. Pareekshit Bishnoi practices at the Delhi High Court and district courts at Delhi.
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‘If you want a change, choose me’ : Tharoor on Congress president poll
In the upcoming presidential election of the grand old party, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor reiterated on Saturday that his contest against senior party member Mallikarjun Kharge “is not a battle.” Following days of turmoil surrounding the intra-party troubles in Rajasthan, Tharoor and Kharge finally submitted their nominations for the crucial elections, which are set for October 17, on Friday.
“This is not a war. We can belong to different schools of thoughts. Let the members decide,” Tharoor told news agency ANI in an interview on Saturday. “All I am telling the members is that if you’re satisfied with the functioning of the party, please vote for Kharge Sahab. But if you want a change, choose me.. If you want the party to function differently.”
His remarks came as news spread that the Gandhis were endorsing the 80-year-old Kharge for the top party position. On Saturday, Kharge announced his resignation as the opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, a day after more than 30 leaders surprised many by end-of-nomination support for his candidacy. In contrast, Tharoor was not accompanied by as many senior leaders.
“But there is no ideological problem here. Whatever the message has so far of the Congress will continue to remain,” Shashi Tharoor said on Saturday, dismissing any differences.
Even though the Gandhis made it clear that they would no longer be running for president post, their management has continued to draw criticism. Regarding the family’s importance for the party in light of the BJP’s dynastic politics allegations.
Kharge resigns as Rajya Sabha Lop, following ‘one person, one post’ formula
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge submitted his resignation as Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House as he filed his nomination for the party’s chief post, after the Udaipur announcement of “one person, one post.”
“I hereby tender my resignation from the post of Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha, consequent upon my filing of nomination for the post of President, All India Congress Committee,” Kharge said in his letter to interim party president Sonia Gandhi.
In February 2021, Kharge took over as the Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House following Ghulam Nabi Azad’s retirement. If Kharge, who is considered to be the front-runner, is chosen as the party president, the Congress may need to find a new LoP in the Rajya Sabha.
Although the selection process for Kharge’s replacement won’t begin until the results are announced, party leaders said that Digivjaya Singh, Mukul Wasnik, or Ranjit Ranjan may be possible candidates.
According to party insiders, Singh, who opted out of the race to support Kharge, might emerge as a possible successor to Kharge. “He doesn’t hold any organisational position and a leader from the Hindi belt can also act like a balancing factor,” said a leader, adding that senior party leader Mukul Wasnik may also be considered. Among women leaders, Ranjit Ranjan, a fierce orator from Bihar, or Gujarat’s former leader of the Opposition Shakti Sinh Gohil could also be considered, said a Congress leader from Rajya Sabha.
In an April 2022 decision, the Udaipur Chintan Shivir demanded that the policy be put into effect at all party levels.
Ashok Gehlot, the chief minister of Rajasthan, decided not to run for president of the Congress after Rahul Gandhi’s strongly advocated “one person, one post” formula sparked an uprising inside the state party last week. A majority of Congress MLAs in Rajasthan staged a separate meeting and prevented the adoption of a one-line resolution authorising the party leader to propose Gehlot’s replacement.
As ‘Bharat Jodo’ enters Karnataka, rattled BJP gives front-page ad that distorts history: Jairam Ramesh
As Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra entered the BJP-ruled state, according to Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Saturday, the BJP placed a front page advertisement in a Kannada newspaper. Ramesh said in a tweet, “The advertisement mischievously distorts history as usual. Savarkar propounded two-nation theory & Jinnah ensured it got done. Syama Prasad Mukherjee, founder of Jan Sangh championed partition of Bengal.” BJP is rattled by the yatra’s success, the Congress leader continued.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi entered the election-bound state of Karnataka on Friday. There, the yatra will travel 511 kilometres across seven districts in 21 days.
Rahul Gandhi remarked in a statement at the beginning of the march’s Kerala leg that the Bharat Jodo Yatra is the voice of the nation and that no one can stop it.
“Entire control is lying with the (Central) government. If we speak in Parliament, they shut our microphones,” Rahul Gandhi said.
A new Rahul Gandhi and a new Congress party have emerged from the Bharat Jodo Yatra which forced the BJP and the RSS on the backfoot, Jairam Ramesh said on Friday. “People asked who is ‘thodoing’ (breaking) Bharat for Congress to do Bharat Jodo, our answer is Mr Modi’s ideology, policies, personality is thodoing Bharat. Because economic inequality is increasing, social polarisation is increasing and political over-centralisation is increasing, the Congress is doing this yatra,” Jairam Ramesh said.
Rajnath Singh Urges Industry cooperation to take Indian defence sector to new heights
Government Steps to Improve Defence Industry manufacturing eco system are showing results: RM
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh exhorted the Indian defence Industry to make new investments and lay more emphasis on research & development to scale new heights. He was addressing the 117th Annual session of PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PHD-CCI ) held in New Delhi on September 30th, 2022. “Make new investments, put more emphasis on research & development, and harness its full potential to take the Indian defence industry to new heights. This effort of yours will be very important not only for the defence industry, but also for the overall growth of the entire country,’ he said.
Raksha Mantri added that the Indian defence sector offers immense potential and the companies even from abroad see opportunities. PHD-CCI being one of the oldest industry associations having many national and international members could act as ambassador of the Indian defence industry. “Your roots are spread far and wide in the country and abroad. You can fulfil your role by communicating with all the domestic and foreign companies, connecting them with the Indian defence industry and acting as a bridge between these two,” he said
Appreciating the PHD-CCI for scheduling a dedicated session on ‘Make in India: A success story of India’s Defence Indigenization’ Raksha Mantri said that this is equally related to the national security, and the economic progress of the country. National security is one of the most important components in the progress of a nation. The social, economic and cultural upliftment of the nation are not possible without security.. India had paid the price in past for neglecting national security. Even after independence not enough attention was given to make defence sector strong and self-reliant, he lamented.
Striking an optimistic note, Raksha Mantri said that Indian defence industry is progressing steadily in partnership with private sector.”There was either no way for the private sector in the past to enter the defence sector, and even if there was some scope, the industry was not ready to set foot in the defence sector due to various reasons”. These reasons were lack of political will, appropriate policy to incentivize their entry, high investment and long gestation period.
Raksha Mantri noted that the government has removed these bottlenecks and played the role of an incubator, catalyst, consumer and facilitator in the case of private industry. Several steps have been taken by the Ministry of Defence, under the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Self-reliant India’ initiatives of the Government, to change the old traditions, and to create a manufacturing climate, in which the public and private sectors could participate.
Elaborating upon the far-reaching reforms undertaken by the MOD to bolster the private sector participation in defence sector, Raksha Mantri said that Government labs opened to the private industry, transferred technology at zero fee, provided access to test facilities, and upfront funding through DRDO was provisioned.
The Ministry of Defence has issued 3 positive indigenization lists of 309 items which will be procured from domestic vendors as per norms. Three lists have also been issued by Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU), in which more than 3700 are Line Replacement Units, Sub-systems and other Components. In addition, an iDEX initiative has been launched to encourage innovators and start-ups. The policy decision has been taken to increase the limit of FDI to 74% by the automatic route, and to 100% by the government route in special cases. Government has taken several steps like introduction of defence industrial corridors– two Industrial corridors have been set up each in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, corporatization of OFB which creates win-win situation for armed forces, industry, start-ups and innovators, said Raksha Mantri.
He further said : “The magnitude of all these efforts is beginning to come before us. Today we are not only producing to meet our own defence needs, but also fulfilling the defence needs of many other countries under ‘Make for the World’. It is a matter of great happiness that defence exports have increased manifold from what we used to have, and have reached Rs 13,000 crores last year. We used to be counted as one of the biggest arms importers in the world until now. But today we are one of the top 25 arms exporting countries of the world. We have targeted a turnover of Rs 1.75 lakh crore in defence manufacturing, including Rs 35,000 crore from exports in aerospace, and defence goods and services by 2025.”
PHD-CCI is one of the oldest chambers in the country. Since its establishment in 1905, it has been proactive National Apex Chamber working at the grass-root level and with strong national and international linkages. The Chamber acts as a catalyst in the promotion of industry, trade and entrepreneurship. PHD Chamber, through its research-based policy advocacy role, positively impacts the economic growth and development of the nation.
Indian Railways to release its new All India Railway time table
The Ministry of Railways will be releasing its new All India Railway Time Table known as “TRAINS AT A GLANCE (TAG)” effective from 1st October, 2022. The new Trains at a Glance will also be available w.e.f. 1st October, 2022 on Indian Railways’ official website i.e. www.indianrailways.gov.in.
Highlights of the new time table are as follows:
I. Indian Railways runs about 3,240 Mail/Express trains which include Vande Bharat Express, Gatimaan Express, Rajdhani Express, Shatabdi Express, Humsaafar Express, Tejas Express, Duronto Express, Antyodaya Express, Garib Rath Express, Sampark Kranti Express, Yuva Express, Uday Express, Janshatabdi Express and other types of trains. In addition, about 3,000 Passenger trains and 5,660 suburban trains are also operated over the Indian Railways network. The volume of passengers carried daily is about 2.23 Crore.
II. To clear extra rush and meet passenger demand, more than 65,000 Special train trips were operated during 2021-22. About 566 coaches were permanently augmented to increase the carrying capacity.
III. Maximize the utilization of rolling stock:
i. During review of the lie over of rakes it was observed that the rakes can be better utilized for extending the existing services or increasing the frequency. This would maximize the utilization of the rolling stock and provide better connectivity to the travelling passengers.
ii.During the year 2021-22, 106 new services were introduced, 212 services were extended and frequency of 24 services was increased.
IV. Proliferation of Premium Trains:
i. At present, Vande Bharat Express trains are operating between New Delhi – Varanasi and New Delhi – Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra. One more Vande Bharat Express train has been introduced between Gandhinagar Capital and Mumbai Central w.e.f. 30.09.2022. It has been proposed to introduce more Vande Bharat Express trains over the Indian Railways network.
ii. Tejas Express services offering onboard services like entertainment, local cuisine, wifi etc. are also being proliferated over Indian Railway network. At present, 7 pairs of Tejas Express services are operational over Indian Railways.
V. Provision of Corridor Blocks in the working Time-Table of the divisions:
To provide sufficient time for the maintenance of the fixed infrastructure like track structure, signaling gears, overhead equipments, it has been planned to ensure provision of fixed corridor blocks. The duration of these corridors blocks will be from 3 hours in each section. This will not only improve the reliability of the assets but also enhance the passenger safety.
X. Conversion of Rakes ICF to LHB:
The conversion of Mail/Express trains operating with ICF design rakes is being undertaken to improve passenger safety and provide faster transit with better riding comfort. Indian Railways converted 187 Rakes of ICF to LHB for the period of 2021-2022.
VII. Efforts to improve punctuality of late running trains:
Necessary changes in the time table have been incorporated to improve punctuality. Due to concerted efforts the punctuality of Mail/Express trains has improved by about 9% as compared to the punctuality during pre Covid (2019-20).
viii. Standardization of rakes:
The rakes at different maintenance depots have been standardized by integration of the rake links to improve flexibility in operations and thereby help in improving punctuality.
IX. Replacement of conventional Passenger trains with MEMU/DEMU:
In the year 2021-22, 60 number of conventional passenger services have been replaced by MEMUs thereby increasing the overall mobility of the system.
X. Availability of Trains at a Glance as “e-Book”:
As a part of digitalization of train Time Table, Trains at a Glance (TAG) will now also be available as ‘e-Book’ which can be downloaded from IRCTC website (www.irctc.co.in & www.irctctourism.com).
Strict Action against defaulters: Union Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav
Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav, conducted a detailed review on 30.09.2022 on measures and actions planned towards abatement of air pollution by all stakeholders concerned in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas, in the wake of poor air quality conditions generally prevailing during the period between October – January each year,
Union Minister impressed upon key sectors that contribute to air pollution and are critical in the ensuing 3-4 months period. He emphasized that source of air pollution such as paddy stubble burning, open biomass / municipal solid waste burning, industrial emissions and particulate matter / dust emissions from construction / demolition activities and roads / open areas were directed to be focussed for concerted preventive and mitigative actions.
Union Minister directed for timely and effective implementation of various components of the detailed plan of actions, developed by the NCR States and Punjab, pursuant to CAQM Framework / Directions on management of paddy stubble burning. Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change called upon Punjab to expand the coverage of area under Bio-Decomposer through pro-active action by the State Government specially since a very marginal increase had been proposed in the coverage of area under Bio-Decomposer i.e. form 7500 acres in 2021 to merely 8000 acres in 2022.
Chairman, CAQM also emphasized the need of time bound implementation of the action plan particularly by the State of Punjab. Optimal utilisation of available crop residue management machinery with the states was identified as a key factor towards effective management of stubble. Extensive use of technology and mobile applications for mapping the demand and supply of such CRM machinery through the CHCs and cooperatives was emphasised upon during the meeting. It was also stressed upon enhancing the net of PUSA bio‑decomposer application for in-situ management of the stubble. Towards ex-situ utilisation of paddy straw various options are now being progressed with including biomass power generation, bio-ethanol production, CBG production, co-firing in thermal power plants, fuel for industrial boilers and other misc. applications, composting, cattle fodder and misc. commercial applications in furnishing materials and packaging etc. Progress on co-firing of biomass in thermal power plants has not been up to the desired levels and the Minister called for immediate corrective measures by Thermal Power Plants to substantially enhance co-firing. The Minister asked CAQM to utilize his statutory powers to take action against the defaulting the Power plants and also any other defaulting entities.
Union Minister expressed his concern and dis-satisfaction with the preparedness of Punjab in taking concrete action on the ground towards Air Quality Management while pointing out that the State Government had not planned adequately for management of almost 5.75 million tons of stubble which is a huge gap and was likely to have an adverse impact on the air quality in Delhi and NCR region.
The Minister exhorted the need to switch over to clean fuels for industrial applications and directed for a quick transition to clean fuels as per the approved standard fuel list for NCR as directed for by the CAQM. Controlling heavy pollution from a large number of diesel generator sets operating in NCR was also identified as key action area and the Minister emphasised on strict implementation of restrictions on use of DG Sets and emission control measures in this context.
The review highlighted the need for effective dust control measures in various anthropogenic activities, construction / demolition activities, roads and open areas. Effective utilisation and augmentation of mechanised road cleaning equipment, water sprinklers and anti-smog guns by NCR State Governments / GNCTD was also emphasized during the meeting.
Considering the criticality of air pollution related mattes including the weather conditions around Diwali festival, the Minister directed for special and timely measures to control the air pollution levels.
As air pollution in the region is a multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral phenomenon, spreading across geographical boundaries, the Minister reiterated the need for collective and concerted efforts of all the stakeholder agencies, departments in the State Govts. and public at large towards abatement of air pollution in the region and to this effect directed that all directions, orders and guidelines of the CAQM / CPCB/ State Pollution Control Boards be implemented in right earnest and critically monitored / reviewed periodically by the authorities concerned.
Senior officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change including Secretary, Chairman, Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), Secretary in-charge in the State Govts. of Punjab, Haryana, UP and GNCT of Delhi, Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board, NCR State Pollution Control Boards, DPCC and other major stakeholders participated in the review meet.
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