SC orders judicial probe into Hyderabad encounter, stays other inquiries

SC for impartial inquiry into encounter of Telangana rape-murder accused
Security personnel stand guard the area where 4 accused in the rape-and-murder case of a 25-year-old woman veterinarian were shot dead by police, at Shadnagar of Ranga Reddy district in Hyderabad. PTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a judicial inquiry into the killing in a police encounter of four men accused of raping and murdering a veterinarian in Hyderabad on December 6.

A three-member panel would investigate the encounter. The panel has been given six months time.

The Supreme Court also directed that "no other court or authority shall inquire into the matter" until further orders. The Telangana High Court has also been hearing petitions on the case while the NHRC is carrying out an inquiry.

The Supreme Court announced the inquiry into the Hyderabad encounter case would be headed by former apex court justice V S Sirpurkar.

A three-member Supreme Court bench - consisting of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, S A Nazeer and Sanjeev Khanna - passed the order while hearing a PIL demanding a probe into the encounter.

Bobde declared that the Supreme Court "did not assume facts" about the encounter and emphasised the issue was one of "credibility".

Representing the Telangana government, advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Krishna Kumar were quoted by Live Law as telling the Supreme Court that the encounter occurred after the "accused tried to snatch the revolvers" of the policemen who had accompanied them to the scene of the crime. Rohatgi claimed the accused fired at police and pelted stones.

Cyberabad Police Commissioner V C Sajjanar had told mediapersons after the encounter that the accused had attacked the police, following which they opened fire.

When asked by Bobde whether shots were fired at the police by the accused, Rohatgi said shots were fired, but they missed.

Bobde then said the Supreme Court "wants this to be investigated objectively", noting certain aspects of the state's stand required inquiry.

Rohatgi emphasised that the Telangana government was not opposed to a probe order from the Supreme Court, noting that it had initiated an investigation by a SIT, while the NHRC was also probing the matter.

On Wednesday, when taking up the pleas, the Supreme Court noted it was considering appointing a retired apex court judge to probe the Hyderabad encounter.

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