SC orders three member judicial inquiry into Hyderabad encounter

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday constituted an inquiry commission headed by former Supreme Court judge V.S. Sirpurkar, former Bombay High Court judge Rekha Baldota and former CBI director D.R. Karthikeyan, to conduct an inquiry into the 'encounter' killing of the four accused in the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices S.A. Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna said, "The commission will complete the inquiry in six months...and the chairman of the commission shall fix the first date hearing at Hyderabad."

The top court grilled senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Telangana government, on many aspects of the alleged encounter of the accused by the state police, and emphasised there should be an independent and unbiased inquiry into this incident.

The Chief Justice queried Rohatgi on the details of the circumstances which led to the police firing at the accused. "Why were the police officials, accompanying the accused to the crime scene, carrying loaded guns...why did the accused attack the policemen with stones, when they had snatched arms...Were they historysheeters?" said the Chief Justice in a volley of questions.

The state government counsel said the accused attempting to escape from the police custody attacked the policemen with stones, and the policemen fired in retaliation.

The apex court also asked the state officials to show the medical report of the injured policemen in the incident. "Why would they use stones, if they have pistols? Where is the cartridge? Who recovered it? Where are all those things kept?" reiterated the Chief Justice.

The Chief Justice asked Rohatgi, "Are you prosecuting the policemen?" He replied, no, as there is no reason to prosecute them at this moment. Chief Justice replied, "People should know the truth. We may order their prosecution right away. Don't resist an inquiry."

The Chief Justice said that the trial against accused in this case is of no consequence since all four are dead now. "They can't present their case at all. The policemen will give their evidence. Be more fair... otherwise the trial will end up being a mockery," said the Chief Justice.

The court observed that a suggestion was to restrain the media from publicising the proceedings of the inquiry commission and making comments in relation to the inquiry. "We accordingly issue notice to Press Council of India," said the court.

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