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Apex court questions Assam government’s probe into ‘fake encounters’

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Guwahati, May 1: The Supreme Court has, during a hearing on a petition challenging a Gauhati High Court order, expressed concern over the investigation into the alleged fake encounters in Assam, while questioning the Assam government’s compliance with the investigation guidelines from the PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) judgment.

The division bench of the apex court had heard the special leave petition filed against the Gauhati High Court judgment into a PIL regarding fake encounters in Assam on Tuesday.

During the hearing, Prashant Bhushan, the counsel for the petitioner, Supreme Court lawyer Arif Jwadder, argued that the Assam police did not follow the PUCL judgment in its investigation after the encounters.

Notably, Jwadder has alleged that over 80 persons have been victims of fraudulent encounters in Assam since May 2021.

The state, in its reply, had stated that PUCL judgment was not applicable to each and every encounter.

Bhushan argued that the PUCL judgment has been violated and that the magisterial inquiry has not been conducted in many incidents. The counsel further stated that the FIRs had been filed against the victims and not against the police personnel.

The apex court questioned the counsel for the Assam government in regard to the mechanism and safeguards that have been put in place by the state government for a fair investigation.

It further asked the state government about the measures taken to ensure compliance with the PUCL guidelines, seeking suggestions for their implementation.

Significantly, the apex court asked the names of some retired High Court judges and retired senior police officers who could be appointed to examine each case and suggest remedial actions for any identified violations.

The court also directed the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to provide documents related to the probe into these encounters conducted by the AHRC.

It further sought details of the inquiry into the alleged fake encounters after the commission ordered for the same, besides details of officers conducting the probe and its outcome.

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