The High Court at Hyderabad on Friday sought to know from the Andhra Pradesh government and the state police that whether a case of murder could be filed against the policemen involved in the gunning down 20 alleged smugglers of red sanders in Chittor on April 7. The Division Bench also asked whether the police have registered a case of unnatural death in this connection.
“The court had directed the Andhra Pradesh Police on April 8 to register a case of suspicious death and sought to know today if it was done,’’ said C Chandrasekhar, general secretary of Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC). Chandrasekhar had filed a petition seeking a CBI inquiry or an investigation by an independent agency into the encounter.
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Additional Advocate General (AAG) D Srinivas, however, submitted before the court that a magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the April 7 operation as per guidelines of the Supreme Court. The matter has now been adjourned to Monday.
The AAG earlier had filed a police report before the court containing the details of two FIRs and identification of the bodies, post mortems besides names of the relatives of the deceased to whom the bodies were handed over.
The government also informed the court that the National Human Rights Commission has issued notices in the matter. “The NHRC is seized of the matter… why should we look into that when there is initiation of NHRC proceedings,” the court noted, according to the AAG.
The High Court further observed that when the matter is under investigation it did not wish to comment on whether it is “death or killings”, the AAG said.
Chandrasekhar, in the writ petition, had alleged that it was a case of “murder” and the victims were poor labourers from Tamil Nadu.
“It was a cold-blooded murder of 20 poor labourers from Tamil Nadu,” alleged the petitioner, who sought directions for registration of an FIR under IPC Section 302 (murder) against the policemen involved in the operation.
The petitioner’s counsel, V Raghunath, said the High Court, after going through the two FIRs, also sought from the government how could police file a case against the dead persons. The police had filed a case of attempt to murder against the slain woodcutters.
The court also asked the name and the rank of the investigating officer in the case and expressed displeasure when informed by the AAG that the local police inspector was the IO. “How could local police conduct investigation?” the court asked.