New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed a three-member commission headed by a former judge of the top court, Justice V S Sirpurkar, to inquire into the encounter killing of four suspected accused in the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad.
Others on the three-member inquiry commission are former judge of the Bombay High Court Justice Rekha Sundar Baldota and former CBI director D.R. Kaarthikeyan. Directing the inquiry commission to submit its report within six months from the date of its first sitting, a bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices Abdul Nazeer and Sanjeev Khanna barred the High Court and the National Human Rights Commission from initiating or proceeding with any probe already initiated into the encounter. However, the court said that the investigation by SIT set up by the state government can go on.
The Telangana state government had initially opposed the setting up of a commission of inquiry headed by a former judge of the top court saying that it would be a parallel inquiry.
CJI Bobde said, “We are in favour of investigating this encounter. We want this encounter to be objectively investigated. We are of the considered view that there should be some inquiry. Let there be impartial inquiry.”
The court asked the Telangana state government to provide all the facilities — travel, boarding,lodging and secretarial staff to the commission in the course of the proceedings.
In the hour-long proceedings, Chief Justice Bobde described as ‘a mockery’ the trial of four people killed in the encounter by the police against whom an FIR has been registered for attacking the police party that took them to the scene of the crime in the early hours of December 6. Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Telangana state government, said that an investigation by SIT was already going on.
CJI Bobde said, “We are not concerned with the investigation. The result of the investigation will have to be evaluated by a committee. And that committee will evaluate and will submit a report. That’s all.”
The court today sought response from the Press Trust of India, Press Council of India and other media organisations on the question of media trial.
“The four accused started attacking the policemen?” the CJI said and asked if they fired at the policemen with the pistol they had snatched. The court poser came as Mr Rohatgi said that the accused fired but the bullet did not hit the police. The accused are said to have snatched the guns from two policemen, fired at them and then were killed in retaliatory fire by the policemen. Mr Rohatgi said all records are intact to show this and the inquiry is on.