Hyderabad Police encounter of rape accused: 65 Former bureaucrats sign open letter to Parliament

On 13 December, 65 retired civil servants penned an open letter to Members of Parliament condemning the ‘encounter’ where four men accused of raping, killing and burning a young veterinary doctor in Hyderabad were gunned down by Telangana Police in the dead of night. The bureaucrats have urged the Parliament to “stop calling for lynching and summary executions … and also prevail upon your parties not to give tickets to people who are accused of rape and murder.”

Of the 65 signatories, 45 were in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), 3 were in the Indian Police Service (IPS), 9 were in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), 3 were in the Indian Revenue Services (IRS) and 1 each in the Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS), Indian Engineering Service (IES) and the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), Indian Customs and Central Exise Services (IC&CES), and IPoS.

Indus Dictum has reproduced in full the text of the open letter below:


Dear Honourable Members of Parliament,

We, a group of retired civil servants deeply committed to the values and guarantees of the Constitution of India, are appalled by the recent incident of the gunning down by the police of four men accused of raping, killing  and burning a young veterinary doctor in Hyderabad. While the crimes of rape and murder were truly horrific, and we condemn them in the strongest terms, we were equally aghast by the widespread clamour among the public, and calls from the media and responsible persons to castrate, publicly execute, hang or lynch the persons responsible for the offence. Even some Members of Parliament demanded instant and kangaroo justice.

It is quite possible that the response of the Hyderabad police to kill the four accused in an early morning ‘encounter’ on 6 December was a result of this clamour. Criticised for poor policing and pressured to show quick results, they could have decided to take the easy way out. The actions of the police, prima facie, do not inspire confidence. How was it possible for a team of ten armed police officers to be overpowered by four men who had been in the police lock-up for several hours and without weapons? Why could not the accused have been handcuffed? Why could they not have been shot at to wound but not to kill when they tried to escape? Several retired police officers have gone on record stating that the police version of the encounter is not believable. And at least one Minister of the Telangana government is reported to have said that the orders for the extra-judicial killing came from the very top!

Article 21 of the Constitution says no person can be deprived of his or her life without due process of law being followed. Due process is essential not only to ascertain that the persons arrested are actually guilty and if so, to what degree, but also to know whether or not the persons arrested are the real criminals and not some persons rounded up by the police to satisfy the outburst of public anger. The fundamental premise of our jurisprudence is that a person is innocent until proved guilty.

A kind of blood lust seems to have swamped India in recent years. Lynching of persons accused of cattle smuggling, of thieving, of child lifting, of witchcraft, in fact of any kind of crime at all, is becoming increasingly common and the Indian public does not turn a hair when such incidents are reported. Shockingly, many of these gory incidents of lynching are even video-recorded and widely distributed. More and more people in India seem to be in favour of this crude and instant justice. Unfortunately, this is getting encouragement from the statements made and actions taken by some of the MPs both within and outside Parliament. But, as the Chief Justice of India has said, “Justice loses its character if it becomes revenge”.

The public offering garlands and sweets to the policemen responsible for the encounter killings in Hyderabad is of a piece with this. When MPs and MLAs demand summary justice, the common man will believe that that is what is desirable and will have no difficulty in seeing killings by policemen as laudable. It will not cross their minds that perhaps those men were not the real culprits, or perhaps all of them were not equally guilty. Everything gets drowned in the chorus of Kill! Kill! Kill! But to quote Barry Eisler, “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you do not become a monster yourself.”

It is not as if it is impossible to deliver justice speedily. Swifter investigation by the police and quicker and continuous trials in the courts are the key. Without this, the police and the people could be tempted to take the law into their own hands and act as judge and executioner.

As MPs, you can ensure these changes are brought about. You can stop calling for lynching and summary executions; you can also prevail upon your parties not to give tickets to people who are accused of rape and murder. Without such actions, your speeches will be seen as hypocritical.  We hope to see you work to bring about the meaningful changes necessary to curb such crimes in the future.

Yours faithfully,

(65 signatories, as below)

Anita AgnihotriIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Department of Social Justice Empowerment, GoI
Shafi AlamIPS (Retd.)Former Director General, National Crime Records Bureau, GoI
S.P. AmbroseIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI
Anand ArniR&AW (Retd.)Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
N. Bala BaskarIAS (Retd.)Former Principal Adviser (Finance), Ministry of External Affairs, GoI
Gopalan BalagopalIAS (Retd.)Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
Chandrashekhar BalakrishnanIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Coal, GoI
Sharad BeharIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
Madhu BhaduriIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Portugal
Meeran C BorwankarIPS (Retd.)Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI
Sundar BurraIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
R. ChandramohanIAS (Retd.)Former Principal Secretary, Transport and Urban Development, Govt. of NCT of Delhi
Anna DaniIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
Vibha Puri DasIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI
P.R. DasguptaIAS (Retd.)Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI
Pradeep K. DebIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI
Nitin DesaiIES (Retd.)Former Secretary and Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, GoI
Keshav DesirajuIAS (Retd.)Former Health Secretary, GoI
M.G. DevasahayamIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
Sushil DubeyIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Sweden
Arif GhauriIRS (Retd.)Former Governance Adviser, DFID, Govt. of the United Kingdom (on deputation)
Gourisankar GhoshIAS (Retd.)Former Mission Director, National Drinking Water Mission, GoI
S.K. GuhaIAS (Retd.)Former Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development, GoI
Meena GuptaIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
Ravi Vira GuptaIAS (Retd.)Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India
Wajahat HabibullahIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, GoI and Chief Information Commissioner
Deepa HariIRS (Resigned) 
Sajjad HassanIAS (Retd.)Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur
Najeeb JungIAS (Retd.)Former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi
Rahul KhullarIAS (Retd.)Former Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
K. John KoshyIAS (Retd.)Former State Chief Information Commissioner, West Bengal
Brijesh KumarIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
Sudhir KumarIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Central Administrative Tribunal
P.K. LahiriIAS (Retd.)Former Executive Director, Asian Development Bank
Subodh LalIPoS (Resigned)Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI
Harsh ManderIAS (Retd.)Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
Aditi MehtaIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
Shivshankar MenonIFS (Retd.)Former Foreign Secretary and Former National Security Adviser
Sonalini MirchandaniIFS (Resigned)GoI
Sunil MitraIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
Deb MukharjiIFS (Retd.)Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal
Shiv Shankar MukherjeeIFS (Retd.)Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
P.G.J. NampoothiriIPS (Retd.)Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Gujarat
Surendra NathIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Finance Commission, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
Amitabha PandeIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
S.Y. QuraishiIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Election Commissioner
C. Babu RajeevIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, GoI
K. Sujatha RaoIAS (Retd.)Former Health Secretary, GoI
M.Y. RaoIAS (Retd.) 
Satwant ReddyIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, GoI  
Deepak SananIAS (Retd.)Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
G. SankaranIC&CES (Retd.)Former President, Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal 
Shyam SaranIFS (Retd.)Former Foreign Secretary and Former Chairman, National Security Advisory Board
Ardhendu SenIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
Ashok Kumar SharmaIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia
Navrekha SharmaIFS (Retd.)Former Ambassador to Indonesia
Raju SharmaIAS (Retd.)Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
Jawhar Sircar  IAS (Retd.)  Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI, & former CEO, Prasar Bharati
Narendra SisodiaIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
Sanjivi SundarIAS (Retd.)Former Secretary, Ministry of Surface Transport, GoI
Parveen TalhaIRS (Retd.)Former Member, Union Public Service Commission
Thanksy ThekkekeraIAS (Retd.)Former Additional Chief Secretary, Minorities Development, Govt. of Maharashtra
Geetha ThoopalIRAS (Retd.)Former General Manager, Metro Railway, Kolkata
Hindal TyabjiIAS (Retd.)Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
Ramani VenkatesanIAS (Retd.)Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra

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