Telangana encounter: Supreme Court orders judicial probe under ex-SC judge

  • SC appointed a three-member inquiry commission headed by former apex court judge VS Sirpurkar
  • The top court set a six-month deadline for submission of the report by the commission
  • The court said no other authority shall inquire into the matter pending before the commission of inquiry till further orders

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed a three-member inquiry commission headed by former apex court judge V S Sirpurkar to inquire into the circumstances leading to the encounter killing of the four accused in the gang-rape and murder of a veterinarian in Telangana. 

The commission, which also included former Bombay high court judge Rekha Sondur Baldota and Central Bureau of Investigation ex-director D R Karthikeyan, will submit its report to the Supreme Court in six months.

SC stays proceedings pending in Telangana high court and NHRC in the case: A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde stayed proceedings pending in the Telangana high court and the National Human Rights Commission in the case and sought an SIT report into the case, saying no other authority shall inquire into the matter pending before the commission of inquiry till further orders.

The top court said the six-month deadline for submission of the report by the commission shall start from the first day of hearing.

The bench noted that “conflicting versions about the incident demands an inquiry to uncover the true facts”.

The bench also took into account the submission made by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the Telangana government that a Special Investigation Team of the state police headed by a police officer of the level of Commissioner of Police was also investigating into the incident and would submit its report.

In its order, the bench noted that obviously even if the SIT conducted investigation and prosecution of the dead person, they can neither be tried or convicted.

The bench said, “We do not see how to certify the possibility of such a trial can ever uncover the truth relating to the incident in which policemen are said to have made an encounter and caused the death of four accused.”

“Therefore we are of considered view that inquiry commission needs to be constituted into inquiring the circumstances in which the four accused persons were killed in the morning in Hyderabad on December 6,” it said.

At the outset the bench was of the view that there should be impartial inquiry into encounter deaths of the four accused.

Two petitions were filed in the Supreme Court, one by lawyers G S Mani and Pradeep Kumar Yadav, and the other by advocate M L Sharma, seeking independent investigation against the police officers concerned.

“No one including the investigating agency like police has right to punish any accused without due process of law. The court alone after applying all the procedure and law and affording an opportunity all the right of free and fair trial and hearing can impose punishment of imprisonment or death sentence,” Mani and Yadav said in their PIL.