Breaking| Atiq Ahmed Murder: How Did Accused Know His Whereabouts, Why Was He Made To Walk To Hospital, SC Asks
The Supreme Court today adjourned a Public Interest Litigation seeking Judicial Enquiry into the murder committed during police custody on April 16, 2023, of the gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf on the undertaking of the State of Uttar Pradesh to submit a comprehensive affidavit indicating the steps taken to enquire into the death which occurred on April 15, 2023.
The Bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Dipankar Datta further directed that Uttar Pradesh Government to disclose in the affidavit the steps taken with respect to similar previous incidents mentioned in the petition and to disclose the follow-up steps taken on the Report of Justice Chauhan Commission.
Appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi beseeched the Court not to issue notice and submitted the State has formed an SIT of two retired judges. Rohatgi narrated the incident and told the bench, "We are looking at every angle, the chaps we caught said that we did it to get famous.". He further added that "the accused under the guise of being photographers committed the crime".
On this, the Court enquired how the accused were aware of the whereabouts and why Ahmed was not taken in the Ambulance to the Hospital gate. "We have seen on the TV, why they were not taken directly from the ambulance and walked from the gate," asked Justice Bhat.
Rohatgi responding to the queries submitted that as per Supreme Court's judgements, the prisoners are required to be taken for medical checkups every 2 days and that these people (the accused) were following up on the whereabouts for the previous 3 days and that the distance to the hospital gate was very short.
Appearing in person, the Petitioner Vishal Tiwari objected to the formation of the SIT by the state by submitting that "they have appointed the SIT, but the State itself is a respondent." He asked the Court for the enquiry commission to be headed by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court.
Noting the submissions, the Apex Court directed the State to put all things on record and orally remarked that the grievance of the petitioner is not against a particular incident, but that there is a pattern. The Court further stated that we can always request the committee to consider sample cases and come out with its recommendation.
The Court, in its order, noted that the State of Uttar Pradesh will submit a comprehensive affidavit indicating the steps taken, and adjourned the matter for three weeks.
The petition moved by Advocate Vishal Tiwari states that the Uttar Pradesh Police has tried to become dare-devils and highlights the violation of the rule of law and oppressive police brutality being perpetrated by the State of Uttar Pradesh. The plea further highlights the encounter killing of Atiq Ahmed's son Asad by the police.
The plea further states that the gangster-turned-politician had recently moved the Supreme Court seeking protection of life when he was being transferred from Sabarmati Gujarat jail to Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. Recently, the State of Uttar Pradesh moved a Caveat stating that nothing be done in the matter without prior notice to the State.
The petitioner-in-person had submitted that Atiq Ahmed and Ashraf were in the custody of the U.P. Police and the state had the duty of providing the highest safety to both the accused. However, they were killed by private assailants posing as media persons and during the commissioning of the offence there was no protection or retaliation by the Police, which questions the transparency. The plea alleges the killing is pre-planned.
Highlighting the extra-judicial killings / fake police encounters, the plea states that "in a democratic society the police cannot be allowed to become a mode of delivering final justice or to become a punishing Authority and the power of punishment is only vested in the Judiciary."
Cause Title: Vishal Tiwari v. Union of India and Ors. [W.P.(Crl.) No. 177/2023]