20 woodcutters were gunned down by the Andhra Pradesh police in the Sheshachalam forest of Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. Human rights activists allege that it was a case of fake 'encounter' killing by the police. The incident must be thoroughly investigated by an independent agency, and those found prima facie responsible, including senior police officers, tried, and if found guilty, sentenced to death.
In Prakash Kadam vs. Ramprasad Vishwanath Gupta ( 2011 ) a bench of the Supreme Court consisting of myself and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra held :
" 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.
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.