Hyderabad encounter| 3-member panel headed by former SC judge Justice V S Sirpurkar to look into the legality of the encounter

Supreme Court: After the Court suggested yesterday that it was considering to appoint a former Supreme Court judge to enquire into the encounter killings of four accused persons in the sensational gangrape-and-murder case of a veterinarian in Telangana, the bench of SA Bobde, CJ and SA Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has ordered setting up of a three-member inquiry commission to probe the Telangana encounter case and stayed proceeding before Telangana High Court and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) until further orders. The panel will be headed by a former Supreme Court judge V S Sirpurkar and will also comprise former Bombay High Court judge Rekha S Baldota and former CBI director D R Karthikeyan.

The commission will sit in Telangana’s Hyderabad to complete the inquiry within six months. Telangana government has also been directed to provide security to the panel members, along with travel, lodging, and boarding.

“We are of a considered view that an inquiry commission needs to be constituted. The inquiry to be completed in six months,”

After an advocate sought gag order on reporting by media, the court said that prima facie it is not inclined to gag media but issued a notice to Press Council of India and Press Trust of India on the same. During a course of proceedings earlier today, Chief Justice of India S A Bobde observed that an inquiry into the matter should be conducted and people should know the truth.

“If you say you are going to prosecute them (policemen involved in an encounter) in criminal court, there is nothing for us to do. But if you say they are innocent then people must know the truth and there must be an inquiry,”

The Chief Justice of India also slammed the police and said,

“Is the police adopting the procedure of prosecuting dead people and saying please do not inquire into what happened.”

Brief background:

  • The Telangana veterinarian was gang-raped and killed by four people before they burnt her body in Telangana’s Shamshabad on November 27. Her charred body was recovered a day later.
  • 4 accused, all lorry workers, in their 20s, were arrested the next day.
  • On Thursday night, all the four men were taken out of the Cherlapally Central Jail by a seven-member police team in a bus. The cops wanted to reconstruct events .
  • In the early hours of December 6, the 4 accused were killed in a police encounter. According to the police, the men, who were apparently not handcuffed, tried escaping. It is also being claimed that the accused men snatched one of the policemen’s guns and fired upon the cops.  Hence, the policemen were forced to open fire which resulted into the encounter.
  • The legality the police action is under a scanner before the Supreme Court as well as the Telangana High Court.
  • State government has also constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the encounter.
  • National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is also conducting a probe into the matter.
  • Supreme Court has now ordered the proceedings before both the Telangana High Court and NHRC to be stayed till further orders.

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)

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