The Supreme Court on Friday directed Uttar Pradesh government to bring on record steps taken and inquiries which have been initiated into the killings of Atiq Ahmed and his brother, while they were taken for medical check-up in police custody, and also shot a volley of questions to the state government in connection with the lapse of their security.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the UP government, said the killers came in the guise of news photographers. A bench comprising Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta asked how did they know? Referring to the shooting of Atiq and his brother live on TV, the bench questioned why they were not taken into the van till the hospital, why were they made to walk and paraded before the media?
The UP government counsel submitted that as per orders of the court, they have to be taken for medical test every two days, so the press knew and the government has appointed a commission to examine the matter and urged the court to not issue notice in the matter and the government will produce records.
The bench said that the petitioner is claiming there is a pattern, maybe the commission can take a sample case, and there was another encounter. The UP government counsel said Atiq and the family were involved in criminal activities for a long time.
The bench also sought a report from the UP government on the police encounter of Atiq Ahmad's son, Asad in Jhansi. Asad was killed in an encounter by a special task force (ST) team of the UP Police on April 13. The top court has scheduled the matter for further hearing after three weeks.
The top court was hearing a plea seeking a probe into the killings of gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf. The plea sought a direction for setting up of an expert committee headed by a former apex court judge to investigate the killings.
Advocate Vishal Tiwari moved the apex court seeking an independent expert committee and also sought an inquiry into the 183 encounters that have taken place in Uttar Pradesh since 2017.
Ahmad and his brother were shot dead by three assailants, posing as journalists, while they were being escorted by police personnel to a medical college in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj for a check up on Saturday night.
The plea sought guidelines to safeguard the rule of law by constituting an independent expert committee under the chairmanship of a former Supreme Court judge and also to inquire into the 183 encounters which had occurred since 2017 as stated by the Uttar Pradesh Special Director General of Police (Law and Order).
The petitioner also sought a probe into the murder of Ahmad and his brother under police custody and stressed that "such actions by police are a severe threat to democracy and rule of law and lead to police state".
The plea said extra judicial killings or fake police encounters do not have a place under the law and further argued that in a democratic society the police cannot be allowed to become a mode of delivering final justice, as the power of punishment is only vested in the judiciary.