Obeying unlawful orders fatal- SC

Learning from Judgements


Prakash Kadam & Etc. Etc. Vs. Ramprasad Vishwanath Gupta & Anr. on 13 May, 2011

-Supreme Court of India


19. This is a very serious case and cannot be treated like an ordinary case. The accused who are policemen are supposed to uphold the law, but the allegation against them is that they functioned as contract killers.

25. We are of the view that in cases where a fake encounter is proved against policemen in a trial, they must be given death sentence, treating it as the rarest of rare cases. Fake `encounters' are nothing but cold blooded, brutal murder by persons who are supposed to uphold the law. In our opinion if crimes are committed by ordinary people, ordinary punishment should be given, but if the offence is committed by policemen much harsher punishment should be given to them because they do an act totally contrary to their duties.

26. We warn policemen that they will not be excused for committing murder in the name of `encounter' on the pretext that they were carrying out the orders of their superior officers or politicians, however high. In the Nuremburg trials the Nazi war criminals took the plea that `orders are orders', nevertheless they were hanged. If a policeman is given an illegal order by any superior to do a fake `encounter', it is his duty to refuse to carry out such illegal order, otherwise he will be charged for murder, and if found guilty sentenced to death. The `encounter' philosophy is a criminal philosophy, and all policemen must know this. Trigger happy policemen who think they can kill people in the name of `encounter' and get away with it should know that the gallows await them.

"32. . . . there is nothing worse in the world than lawlessness, for in a state of Matsyayaya, nobody, not even the evil doers are safe, because even the evil doers will sooner or later be swallowed up by other evil doers."