Cause of Suo Motu Cognizance

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh, two policemen got involved in a squabble at a ‘dhaba’ (eatery) over payment of bill for the food they consumed. The policemen then falsely implicated and arrested ten people including the brother of the owner of the eatery and eight customers in an alleged encounter with them. The persons reportedly arrested by the police are presently lodged in judicial custody.

To whom did NHRC issue a notice?

The Commission has issued a notice to the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a report in the matter within six weeks. A copy of the these proceedings has also been sent to the Member Secretary, Uttar Pradesh State Legal Aid Services Authority to ensure free legal aid to the arrested people, if not provided.

Violation of Human Rights?

Issuing the notice the Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, raise serious issue of violation of Human Rights. The incident, apparently, is a classic example of failure of entire system of checks and balances. Hence, fair investigation is required to be conducted to know where the policemen could manage to procure these items.

What did the media report consist of?

According to the media report, carried on 23.03.2021, the owner of the eatery alleged that on 04.02.2021, two policemen, who were on duty, came and had food at his dhaba and later refused to pay the bill of Rs.400/-. The policemen, reportedly offered only Rs.80/- and the brother of the owner asked them to pay at least Rs.200/-. Some of the customers, present at that time, also asked the policemen to pay the bill. An argument reportedly took place and the policemen started beating the brother of the owner of the eatery. After this the policemen left the place.

After some time, around fifteen policemen reportedly arrived in three vehicles, pointed guns and took away the brother and the cousin of the eatery owner, as well as eight customers with them to the Kotwali (Rural) Police Station and an FIR, was registered against them.

The owner of the eatery, who is specially-abled, was reportedly, spared by the police. The persons arrested by the police are lodged in judicial custody and as per the FIR, ten people, part of a gang, were hatching a plan to commit a crime of loot and the police caught them after an encounter. Six illegal weapons, eighty liters illicit liquor and 2 kg contraband had been reportedly projected as recovered from the persons arrested by the police.

The Additional Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh has reportedly asked the Senior Superintendent of Police, Etah to get an investigation conducted in a time bound manner. The District Magistrate of Etah has also ordered probe into the incident as mentioned in the news report. It is also mentioned in the news report that the Station House Officer of the Kotwali Dehat police station has been placed under suspension.

National Human Rights Commisssion

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