NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Wednesday suspended an Andhra Pradesh High Court ruling which made mandatory the lodging of criminal cases following every gun battle between police and criminals including Maoists and due investigation before giving a clean chit to police.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice J.M. Panchal suspended the Feb 9 ruling of the high court on a lawsuit questioning its legality and its impact on police morale in fighting Maoists and other extremist elements in various states.
The lawsuit was brought by the Andhra Pradesh Police Officers Association, comprising the policemen and officers between the ranks of constables to inspectors.
The bench also issued notices to the state government and various police authorities, seeking their stand on the lawsuit challenging the high curt verdict.
The high court had said that registration of a first information report (FIR) following every police operation that leads to the killings of suspected militants or Maoists is a must as per the laws of the land.
The high court had ruled that following the registration of the case, it has to be duly probed and the probe report should be submitted to the appropriate court.
The high court disapproved the police practice of generally giving a clean chit to its officers involved in gun battles, acceding to their plea that they acted in private defence and ended up killing the criminals in police operation.
The high court had ruled that the criminal culpability or otherwise of the policemen involved in the gun battle has to be decided by the appropriate court and not by the policemen themselves.
Ordering registration of a criminal case following each instance of gun battle between police and suspected criminal and Maoists, the high court had also said the mandatory magisterial probe into the gun battle was no substitute to the lodging of a criminal case.
The high court had given its ruling on a public interest lawsuit, which was filed before in 2006 following a fierce gun battle between policemen and suspected Communist Party of India-Maoist cadres in Markapur hillocks in the state. Eight Maoist rebels were killed in the gun battle.
The lawsuit, challenging the high court ruling, dwelt upon its debilitating impact on police morale and said that a total of 551 policemen and officers have lost their lives in the state in operations against Maoists since 1969.
It added that at least 2,928 civilians too died in the Maoist violence in the state.