NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court said that its favours an independent investigation of the recent killing of four rape and murder suspects in what the Telangana police said was an encounter.The Apex Court on Thursday set up an inquiry commission to probe the encounter of four men who were accused of raping and murdering a 26-year-old Hyderabad veterinarian.
The three member commission will be headed by former top court judge VS Sirpurkar , and the other two members are former Mumbai High Court Judge Rekha Baldota and former CBI Chief B R Karthikeyan. The enquiry commission will operate from Hyderabad and a deadline of six months has been set to complete the inquiry.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde stayed proceedings pending in the Telangana High Court and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the case and sought an SIT report into the case, saying no other authority shall inquire into the matter pending before the commission of inquiry till further orders.
The top court said the six-month deadline for submission of the report by the commission shall start from the first day of hearing and it shall have all the power under the Commission of Inquiry Act for conducting inquiry into the December 6 encounter deaths.
The bench, also comprising Justice S A Nazeer and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, ordered that security to the three-member commission shall be provided by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
The bench noted that "conflicting versions about the incident demands an inquiry to uncover the true facts".
The bench also took into account the submission made by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the Telangana government that a Special Investigation Team of the state police headed by a police officer of the level of Commissioner of Police was also investigating into the incident and would submit its report
Rejecting the Telangana government's objection to a judicial inquiry under its supervision, the court said conflicting versions demanded an impartial probe.They also instructed that other enquiry commissions probing the encounter should be stopped immediately.
Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde told the Telangana government, those aspects of its version of events needed inquiry.
Earlier, the state told the SC that there was no doubt about the identity of the four men. “The four were identified through CCTV cameras. One was riding a bike and one bought petrol to burn the victim,” the state said.
It added that the accused were taken in the wee hours of the morning to ward off riotous situations “because people were very angry”. “They tried to snatch revolvers. The accused fired and attacked cops. Three cops were injured and there was retaliatory fire by cops,” the state said.
Calling for an impartial inquiry, the SC asked the Telangana government about medical reports of the policemen and the accused and forensic reports of the cartridges.
“There should be an inquiry into the encounter. There are aspects of the state government's version which require an inquiry,” the court said. “People should know the truth. We may order their prosecution right away. Don't resist an inquiry,” the court told the government.
Last week, the Telangana police said they killed the four suspects -- all lorry workers in their twenties -- when they attacked policemen near the crime scene (near Hyderabad), where they'd been taken to help retrieve the victim's personal belongings.
The police action had its critics, but it was largely welcomed by the public.
"We don't think your trial of nonexistent accused should come in the way of inquiry into what you did."- Supreme Court said . Chief Justice SA Bobde said today that an ongoing investigation by an SIT could continue, but also that the Supreme Court was inclined to appoint a judge to hold a parallel inquiry -- a move opposed by the state government.
"It's a matter of credibility. We don't think your trial of nonexistent accused should come in the way of inquiry into what you did," the chief justice said. Chief Justice Bobde said the SIT could give a report to the inquiry committee.
One petitioner, Mukesh Sharma, said the killings were custodial deaths, and said the families of the suspects should be given compensation.