The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it proposed to order an inquiry by a retired judge of the apex court into the killing of four men accused of raping and murdering a veterinary surgeon in a police encounter in Hyderabad on December 6.
Heading a three-judge bench, Chief Justice of India S A Bobde said the court was aware that the Telangana High Court is already seized of the matter and added that “the only thing we propose to do is have an inquiry by a retired SC judge”.
He added that the judge, if and when appointed, will conduct the inquiry from Delhi and asked the parties to suggest names. CJI Bobde said the court had already checked with Justice (retired) P V Reddy, but it did not come through.
The bench, also comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna, was hearing a PIL by Advocates G S Mani and Pradeep Kumar Yadav. The bench said it will hear the matter again on Thursday.
The petitioners have alleged that the encounter was “fake” and that it “was conducted only to divert the public reaction over sensational gang rape and murder cases against innocent young girls and may be to protect the real culprits which is very serious, painful and not only impermissible under the rule of law but such fake encounter killing amounts to pre-planned murders in the hands of police official…”.
It contended that the rape and murder took place due to the “failure” of police and that the incident had sent shock waves among the public. Pointing to news reports, it said police “refused to take immediate action and register an FIR” when the rape victim’s family member went to lodge a complaint. These had turned public against police, the PIL claimed and added that to divert the public mood, police claimed to have arrested the accused within 24 hours.
“The police…themselves executed death sentence without any due process of law”, it said.
The petitioners said “no one including the investigating agency like police has right to punish any accused without due process of law”.
The petition said there was a “clear chance” of the police officers involved in the encounter trying to destroy evidence and urged the court to restrain the personnel concerned from official duties till the completion of an independent investigation.
According to Telangana police, the accused were killed in retaliatory firing after two of the accused opened fire from pistols snatched from the police personnel.