SC orders impartial inquiry into Hyderabad encounter

The Telangana government justified the encounter, saying the accused snatched two firearms and shot at a police party.

The Supreme Court on Thursday set up an Inquiry Commission headed by former top court judge Justice V S Sirpurkar to look into circumstances leading to killings of four persons in police encounter in Hyderabad on December 6. The deceased were accused of sensational rape and murder of a 27-year-old veterinary doctor, whose charred body was found on November 28.

The court ordered that inquiry should be over in 6-month time. Ex Bombay HC judge Rekha Baldota and former CBI chief D R Karthikeyan would be the members of the Commission.

Taking up three PILs which questioned the veracity of claims of a police encounter, a bench presided over by Chief Justice S A Bobde said, "We are of the considered view that there should be some inquiry. Let there be an impartial inquiry."

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Telangana government, said that an SIT headed by a senior police officer has already been ordered into incident where four accused were killed by the Hyderabad police after they allegedly attempted to snatch their firearms and attacked them during recreation of the scene of the crime related to the rape and murder of the doctor.

The court was not impressed as the counsel said an FIR of the attempt of murder has also been lodged against the four accused.

"Even if the SIT concludes its investigation, the accused who are dead can't be prosecuted. We do not see how the possibility of such a trial (against the deceased) can uncover the truth relating to the incident in which police are said to have caused fake encounter," the bench, also comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna said.

"This trial is of no consequence. It is a matter of credibility. We don't think your trial for non-existing dead accused will take you anywhere," the bench said.

During the hearing, Rohatgi submitted that the NHRC and Telangana HC were also examining the matter.

On this, the court directed no other authority should now look into the matter.

The court also decided to seek responses from media houses to pass its order for restraining the press from publishing reports related to the proceedings of the Inquiry Commission.

"Prima facie, we are not inclined to gag the media, we did it in the Ayodhya case. But why should everything should be shown to media on the morning and the evening," the bench asked.

Three petitions were filed by G S Mani and Pradeep K Yadav, ML Sharma and Mukesh Kumar Sharma seeking independent probe, among others, into the encounter.

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