Owing to the two months lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic across India, the three-member Judicial commission probing into the alleged extra-judicial killing of four men accused in the Disha gangrape and murder case, has made little or no progress. The commission formed in January this year had a six-month deadline and has lost four months already.
The Commission was formed on the orders of Supreme court of India but has been able to meet just once before the lockdown in February. The commission’s probe into the alleged extrajudicial killings as of now appears to have come to a standstill.
Speaking to TNM, former CBI director DR Karthikeyan, one of three members appointed by the Supreme Court said, “During the lockdown, the courts are not functional, the important thing right now is saving lives. Everything has come to a standstill. There is supposed to be one more hearing but not sure when. Once normalcy resumes we will be able to start the Commission’s work,” he added. The other two members of the judicial committee are the former Supreme Court judge VS Sirpukar who heads the commission and retired judge of Bombay High Court Rekha Baldota.
The Commission was provided with an office within the Telangana High Court premises and 19 staff members by the Telangana government. The Commission in the only meeting it held had asked the parties concerned in the probe to submit their reports and statements. Karthikeyan, however, added that a few reports are yet to come. “We called for statements from concerned people and some reports and statements are yet to come. All this has to be received and only then we can have the next hearing,” said the former CBI director.
The Commission is probing into the alleged extra-judicial killing of four men accused in the gangrape and murder of a Hyderabad based veterinarian on November 26, 2019. The veterinarian was gang-raped near the Thondupally toll booth at Shamshabad, her body dumped and burnt some 25 kilometres away from the location of the crime.
The Cyberbabd police soon arrested Mohammed Areef, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Chennakeshavulu. The police took the four men to the underpass at Chatenpally of Shadnagar for a supposed recreation of the crime on December 6. The police claim the four men who were truck drivers and cleaners by profession overpowered the 10 officers who had accompanied them, stealing their guns and attempting to flee into the agricultural fields. Police claim the four men were shot and killed in “retaliatory firing” after being given due warning to surrender.
Two days after the encounter, the state government appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by the Rachakonda Commissioner of Hyderabad to look into it.Two petitions were subsequently filed seeking probe into the alleged encounter killings, one petition was filed in the Supreme Court by lawyer ML Sharma and the other at Telangana High Court by petitioners GS Mani and Pradeep Kumar.