Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Killing of goons in self defence not offence: HC

Five years after two criminals - Dindigul Pandi and Velu - were gunned down by the Chennai police in an encounter, the Madras high court on Tuesday said the police action "done in exercise of the right of private defence" could not be termed as an offence.

"An action done in the exercise of the right of private defence can't be termed as an offence under Section 96 of IPC. Every person has a right to defend his own body, and the body of any other person, against any offence affecting the human body," ruled the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M M Sundresh.

On February 8, 2010, Pandi and Velu were killed in an encounter at Neelankarai in Chennai. The two were accused in several cases.

The present PIL was filed by advocate P Pugalenthi, director of NGO Prisoners Rights Forum, seeking a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to register a case of murder against the police personnel involved in the encounter.

Police said they intercepted a vehicle of Pandi and Velu on the basis of reliable information. The duo attacked police with sickles, a gun and a country bomb. They said some police officers were injured in the attack. In self-defence, police retaliated by opening fire, causing the deaths.

M Radhakrishnan, counsel for Pugalenthi, said the self-defence plea was available to police personnel only at the time of trial, and that the jurisdictional police ought to have registered an FIR and investigated. Since the death had occurred at the instance of police personnel, an independent inquiry ought to have been initiated, he said.

In its order, the bench, pointing out that the report of the revenue divisional officer was exhaustive, said: "A perusal of the report would show that an exhaustive inquiry was conducted and statements from different persons, including the family members of the deceased, have been obtained. Publications calling for statements were made in the dailies having wide circulation. The report was also accepted by the government."

Pointing out that the PIL-petitioner had not assailed the report, they said, "we do not have any factual premise leading to a conclusion of an offence having been committed."

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