The Supreme Court-appointed three-member commission inquiring into the alleged encounter of four persons accused of rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad last December is of the view that virtual hearing and sittings in order to complete the inquiry are not feasible. At the same time, the Commission said it has been looking for different ways to complete the inquiry expeditiously, said an official release Friday.
Headed by former SC judge Justice V S Sirpurkar, the Commission was ordered to be constituted on December 12, 2019, and also included former Bombay High Court Justice Rekha Sundar Baldota and former CBI director D R Kaarthikeyan. The first sitting was held on February 3, 2020.
The four accused in the rape and murder of the veterinarian were allegedly gunned down in an exchange of fire with the Cyberabad police on the morning of December 6, 2019, very close to the location where they had allegedly raped and killed her. According to police, the four were taken to the location for reconstruction of the crime scene, and recovery of the cell phone, watch, and power bank of the victim. Police maintain that the four snatched weapons from the police party and attacked them leading to retaliation in which all four were killed on the spot.
About the progress of inquiry in the case so far, the office of the Commission has received 1365 affidavits from respondents disclosing facts within their knowledge. While the family members of three accused filed their affidavits on March 3, the police personnel involved in the incident have filed their affidavits on June 15. However, the state government is yet to respond.
The office of the Commission has collected the record of the NHRC investigation report on February 21; the SIT investigation report on February 25; the report of the second postmortem examination on June 10, and meteorological reports of the relevant date, etc. The office of Commission notes that most of the records received from the SIT as well as a majority of the affidavits received were in the Telugu language. These records were translated into English and several thousands of pages of records have been then verified, and collated by the Secretary and the staff of the Commission.
The note undersigned S Sasidhar Reddy, secretary of the Inquiry Commission, states that the Commission has ensured that its work continues despite the COVID pandemic, a nation-wide lockdown, travel restrictions, and even as several persons working in the premises allocated to the Commission were found to be COVID-19 positive.
The second sitting of the Commission that was scheduled for March 23 and 24 in Hyderabad was suspended due to the pandemic.
However, after exploring the possibility and viability of conducting online hearings and sittings to complete the inquiry, the Commission is of the view that virtual hearing is not feasible.
“The hearings of the Commission would involve the participation of several persons, the witnesses deposing before the commission, the Advocates appearing for the different persons, etc. whose security and confidentiality has to be ensured,” says the note from the Secretary.
Further, it says the security and confidentiality of the witnesses may be compromised.
“In virtual hearings, the links of the hearing will have to be shared with the different persons concerned with the hearing. This may compromise the security and confidentiality of the witnesses.Moreover, the inquiry requires a physical inspection of the scene of the incident and other related locations, which is also not possible in a virtual hearing.”
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