Police Whistleblower Appeals to Indian Supreme Court
On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, Punjab Police whistleblower Satwant Singh Manak filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of India in the case he is fighting on behalf of ten victim families whose loved ones were extrajudicially executed by the Punjab Police. Supreme Court attorney Shadan Farasat, High Court attorney Rajvinder S. Bains and Ensaaf drafted the special leave petition. The petition includes a detailed affidavit, detailing Manak’s personal experiences of police torture and his father’s death as a result of police torture.
From 1991 to 1993, Manak witnessed his colleagues in the Punjab Police torture and extrajudicially execute over ten people. After he reported these killings to his superiors, the Punjab Police illegally detained and tortured him, and filed three false cases against him. After his acquittal and release, in October 1994, Manak filed a petition calling on the Punjab & Haryana High Court to investigate these killings. Manak then spent several years on the run, as the Police severely persecuted his family in their efforts to apprehend him.
- Jaskaran Kaur
Fourteen years later, in 2008, a Single Judge of the High Court of Punjab & Haryana allowed his petition and directed investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (“CBI”) into the killings. The State of Punjab, however, appealed against this decision to a larger bench of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, comprising two judges. Five years from the date of this appeal, on November 26, 2013, the Punjab & Haryana High Court allowed the appeal of the State of Punjab and reversed and nullified the decision of the Single Judge directing investigation by the CBI. Not only did it refuse to order an inquiry into Manak’s allegations that he witnessed the Punjab Police torture and unlawfully kill ten people, it also fined Manak, ordering him to pay 2,000 rupees to each of the accused police officers. The Court characterized him as a disgruntled employee with a vendetta. Further, the Court ignored significant aspects of the record, including post mortem reports indicating police shot the victims at point blank range—execution style, Manak’s acquittal orders in all of the false cases filed against him, affidavits filed by victim families, and Manak’s own affidavit detailing his eyewitness accounts of the torture, murder, and disposal of the victims. Instead, the Court wholesale adopted the Police’s false statements regarding the deaths or disappearances of the victims, and called for balancing human rights with “ground realities,” effectively sanctioning torture and unlawful killings.
“With its ruling, the High Court justified murder and failed to uphold its obligations under law. We hope the Supreme Court will take the first step towards protecting the rule of law and the rights of the victims to truth and justice by ordering an appropriate investigation into these killings. We commend Manak and the families for persevering for 20 years in their struggle for justice,” said Jaskaran Kaur, Co–Director of Ensaaf.
“The Supreme Court has wide powers to redress fundamental human rights violations, like disappearances and fake encounters. In recent decisions, the Apex Court has held that fake encounters may never be justified. We are hopeful the Court will take a strong stand on this case to enforce human rights and initiate a process to hold the perpetrators accountable,” said Shadan Farasat.
In November 2013, Ensaaf premiered its film The Last Killing chronicling Manak’s fight for justice for these survivor families. Read more about each victim here and inform yourself about the case by attending or hosting a screening of The Last Killing.
To host a screening of The Last Killing contact Ambri Pukhraj.