The Kerala High Court has stayed the cremation of two Maoists - Manivaskam and Karthi - who were killed in encounters allegedly stage-managed by Thunder Bolts, Kerala Police's counter-insurgency wing, in Agali forest in Palakkad district on October 28 and 29.
As many as four Maoists were killed in the encounter with police, the other two being Rama and Arvind.
The High Court's stay order came a day after the Palakkad District and Sessions Judge gave police the permission to dispose all four bodies.
Tuesday's High Court order means the police can cremate the bodies of Rama and Aravind.
All four bodies have been kept at the Thrissur Medical College mortuary after the post-mortem.
'Preserve bodies till further orders'
While issuing the stay order after considering the petitions by Manivasakam's sister and Karthi's brother, the High Court asked the police to preserve the bodies till it issues further orders. "The sessions court has not considered the post-mortem report while allowing the police to cremate the bodies," the High Court observed.
Sessions court's nod
On Monday – eight days after the encounter killings - the Palakkad District and Sessions Court had given police the approval to cremate the bodies.
On October 30, the sessions court had stayed the disposal of bodies till November 4, after considering petitions filed by the relatives of Karthi and Manivasakam.
The complainants alleged that the police had violated the 2014 Supreme Court guidelines that should be followed after encounter killings.
The police could so far identify only Manivasakam and have been struggling to establish the identities of the remaining three.
The police appear to be in a dilemma on how to go about the cremation. They fear that cremating the bodies without verifying their identities will put them in trouble in future.
The police are now planning to publish the photos of the dead in public place and social media.
Supreme Court guidelines
In 2014, the Supreme Court had listed out guidelines to be followed in encounter cases for an independent investigation and to reduce the number of fake encounters.
It stated that police should inform the National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission and the police should surrender weapons for investigations immediately after the encounter deaths.