August 27, 2009 12:33:36 am
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday chose to stand by the National Human Rights Commissions (NHRC) clean chit to the Delhi Police in last years encounter at Batla House that killed two alleged militants and left a police officer dead.
A Division Bench led by Chief Justice A P Shah dismissed a petition seeking a magisterial inquiry into the encounter,despite repeated prods from civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan to re-consider.
On July 22 the NHRC had concluded in its final report that there had been no violation of human rights from the police side in the encounter on September 19,2008.
Criticising the apex human rights bodys report,Advocate Bhushan argued that NHRC had not even done the basic things required of them while investigating the circumstances of the encounter. They (NHRC team) did not even go to the place… to Batla House, Bhushan told the court. They did not check if there was any escape route as claimed by the police; they did not verify if shots could be fired at angles the police say they were fired at.
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Has the police version (of the encounter) ever been put to any serious scrutiny (in the NHRCs findings)? Advocate Bhushan asked.
But the court stood by its decision that the report was filed by a statutory authority,such as NHRC,and deserved due respect.
Bhushan then said,Is the court saying that since NHRC conducted an inquiry,what can the High Court do now under Article 226 (writ power of High Courts under the Constitution)? Would the court have accepted had NHRC given a short report saying we trust the police; we accept the police version (and) we cannot do anything in this case?
To this,the Chief Justice replied: It is not so sacrosanct that they (NHRC) write anything and we accept it NHRC has prestige; this was a fact-finding probe.
Justice Manmohan seconded with a remark that there are several circumstances quoted in the report which points out that the encounter was not fake.
The NHRCs 30-page report said the police action was fully protected by law and there is no need for further inquiry in the case.
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