Ex-SC judge to head inquiry panel into Telangana encounter, orders Supreme Court
Hearing two public interest litigations seeking an independent probe into the deaths, Chief Justice SA Bobde said there should be an impartial inquiry into the incident.Updated: Dec 12, 2019 12:08 IST
The Supreme Court on Thursday constituted an inquiry commission to probe the killing of four men in an encounter in Telangana. They were accused of raping and murdering a 26-year-old veterinary doctor in Telangana last month.
The three-member commission will be headed by retired Supreme Court judge VS Sirpurkar. Retired Bombay high court judge Rekha Baldota and former CBI Director Kartikeyan will be the other members of the commission.
The commission has to submit its report within six months.
Hearing two public interest litigations seeking an independent probe into the deaths, Chief Justice SA Bobde said there should be an impartial inquiry into the incident.
“If you say you’re going to prosecute them (policemen involved in encounter) in criminal court, there is nothing for us to do. But if you say they’re innocent then people must know truth. We don’t want to assume facts. Let there be inquiry, why are you resistant to that?” the CJI told senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the state of Telangana. The state government has justified the encounter, saying the accused snatched two firearms and shot at a police party.
“We are of the considered view that there should be impartial inquiry into the encounter deaths of the four people accused in the gangrape and murder of a veterinarian in Telangana,” the bench, also comprising Justices S A Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna, said.
“We are not opposed to an impartial inquiry. An SIT has already been formed to probe the encounter,” Rohatgi told the bench.
During the course of hearing, Rohatgi told the bench that the accused pelted stones and even fired at the policemen but the shots missed the target. The policemen were, however, injured in the attack, the counsel said.
The four men - Mohammed Areef, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Chintakunta Chenna Keshavulu - were accused of raping and murdering the veterinarian at Shamshabad on the outskirts of Hyderabad on the intervening night of November 27 and 28.
They were subsequently arrested and on December 6, they were killed in an exchange of fire with police at Chatanpalli, the same place where they allegedly burnt the body of the veterinarian.
The incident took place when the accused were taken to the site of offence for the reconstruction of the scene of crime as part of the investigation.
The death of the four accused in the encounter was welcomed by many who saw it as express justice being delivered. But there have been voices from the legal fraternity and rights groups who have underscored the difference between justice and vigilantism.