The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on April 28 a plea seeking an independent probe into the killing of gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmad and his brother Ashraf in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj.
Atiq Ahmad (60) and Ashraf were shot dead at point-blank range by three men posing as journalists in the middle of a media interaction on April 15 night while police personnel were escorting them to a medical college in Prayagraj for a checkup.
The plea, filed by advocate Vishal Tiwari, has also sought an inquiry into the 183 encounters that have taken place in Uttar Pradesh since 2017.
Tiwari mentioned the matter for urgent listing on Monday before a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha.
He told the bench that his plea was slated to come up for hearing on Monday but it has not been listed.
"Since five judges are not available, some cases in which dates were given have not been listed. We will try to list this on Friday (April 28)," the CJI said, adding, some apex court judges are down with COVID-19 while some others are indisposed due to other reasons.
The Uttar Pradesh Police had recently said that it has gunned down 183 alleged criminals in encounters in the six years of the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath-led government and this included Ahmad's son Asad and his accomplice.
The plea filed in the apex court has sought the setting up of an independent expert committee to probe the killing of Atiq and Ashraf.
"Issue guidelines/directions to safeguard the rule of law by constituting an independent expert committee under the chairmanship of a former Supreme Court justice to inquire into the 183 encounters which had occurred since 2017 as stated by Uttar Pradesh Special Director General of Police (Law and Order) and also to inquire into the police custody murder of Atiq and Ashraf," it said.
Referring to Atiq's killing, the plea said "such actions by police are a severe threat to democracy and rule of law and lead to a police state".
"In a democratic society, the police cannot be allowed to become a mode of delivering final justice or to become a punishing authority. The power of punishment is only vested in the judiciary," the plea submitted.
It said extra-judicial killings or fake police encounters have no place in the law.
When the police turn "daredevils then the entire rule of law collapses and generates fear in the mind of people against the police which is very dangerous for democracy and this also results in more crimes," the plea stated.
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