The three-member commission will be headed by retired SC judge VS Sirpurkar.

SC forms commission headed by former judge to probe Hyderabad encounterFile photo/PTI
news Encounter Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 12:36

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a judicial inquiry into the alleged encounter of four rape accused by Cyberabad police. Retired SC judge VS Sirpurkar will be heading the three-member panel which will investigate the encounter. The commission will sit in Hyderabad and investigation has to be completed within six months, the court directed.

Other members of the investigation team include former Bombay High Court judge Rekha Prakash Baldota and former CBI chief Kartikeyan. The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde was hearing two public interest litigations seeking an independent probe into the deaths of the four accused in the Hyderabad veterinarian gangrape and murder case last week.

The apex court also stayed proceedings of other probes into the encounter, including the petition before Telangana High Court and the probe by National Human Rights Commission, until the three-member commission completes its investigation.

On December 6, four accused —  Mohammed Areef, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Chennakeshavulu — who were accused of raping and murdering Disha, a veterinary doctor from Hyderabad, were gunned down by police allegedly during crime reconstruction and witness collection.

Cyberabad police commissioner VC Sajjanar claimed that the accused snatched their pistols and fired at them, leaving no option but to retaliate with weapons.

On Thursday, the Telangana government, represented by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, justified that the encounter in court, saying that the accused men snatched two firearms from the police and shot at the police party.

Rohatgi told CJI Justice Bobde, "They fired at police and pelted stones. In response, police opened fire," as quoted by Live Law.

The CJI, in response, asked, "Were shots fired at police with guns that were snatched?" to which the Rohatgi said that though shots were fired police dodged them.

In the alleged encounter which took place on December 6, none of the police sustained any bullet injuries.

According to PTI, the bench, which also comprised Justices S A Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna said, "We are of the considered view that there should be an impartial inquiry into the encounter deaths of the four people accused in the gangrape and murder of a veterinarian in Telangana."

"There are aspects of your (Telangana government's) version which needed an inquiry,” the bench observed.

CJI Bobde also expressed concerns on the possibility of a media trial over the encounter. He reportedly said, "We don't wish to gag media, but there needs to be some balance in certain cases."

The court has issued notices on the plea to restrain the media from publishing the proceedings before the commission. The notices were issued to the Press Council of India and to PTI.

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