The Supreme Court on Thursday said an independent and impartial inquiry into the encounter killing of the four accused in the gangrape and murder of a veterinarian in Telangana "cannot be scuttled" on the ground that the trial is going on against them.
It said the police has lodged an FIR in the encounter against the four accused who are dead and cannot be represented and "the trial will end up being a mockery".
"They can't present their case at all. It will only be policemen giving their evidence. Be more fair...the trial will end up being a mockery," the bench observed.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde observed that "it is a matter of inquiry" and asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Telangana government, to "be fair about it".
Rohatgi said that the state government was following all the guidelines laid down by the apex court on the encounter killing and there is no need of a separate inquiry by a retired judge of the apex court.
The bench questioned Rohatgi for resisting an inquiry and said: "We are not saying you (police) are guilty. We are not saying you are wrong. At this stage we don't know anything," the bench said, adding, "We are talking about an inquiry, not about anyone's guilt".
The Supreme Court also said it was not in favour of gagging the media over reporting the case of the gang-rape and murder of the veterinarian and the killing of the four accused in an encounter. "Prima facie, we are not inclined to gag media," the bench noted.
The remarks from the bench came when one of the advocates, who has filed a petition seeking an independent probe into the encounter killing, alleged that there should be some curb on the media as it was selectively highlighting the evidence about the crime furnished by the police.
"We don't want to gag media except in cases like Ayodhya where mediation was confidential. There has to be some balance," observed the bench.
(With inputs from PTI)