Home Judiciary SC moves 2019 ‘Hyderabad encounter’ case involving gang rape-murder suspects to Telangana...

SC moves 2019 ‘Hyderabad encounter’ case involving gang rape-murder suspects to Telangana HC

Four men accused of raping & killing Hyderabad veterinarian were shot dead by police in December 2019, when they allegedly tried to escape from custody.

The Supreme Court of India | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
The Supreme Court of India | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Hyderabad: The Supreme Court Friday transferred to the Telangana High Court proceedings in the alleged encounter killing of four people accused of raping and murdering a 27-year-old veterinary physician in Hyderabad in 2019.

The apex court also rejected the Telangana government’s request to keep sealed the report of an SC-appointed inquiry commission probing the ‘encounter’, and ordered for the report to be furnished to all parties related to the case.

On 28 November 2019, a 27-year-old veterinary physician was allegedly gang-raped and murdered in Hyderabad. Four accused were caught on 29 November and the police got their judicial custody on 4 December.

On the morning of 6 December, Telangana Police shot dead all four accused — Mohammad Arif, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Chennakesavulu — after they allegedly tried to escape. They had been taken to an underpass on the Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway, next to the Chatanpally village near Hyderabad, to reconstruct the crime scene.

Within a week of the alleged encounter, the Supreme Court appointed a three-member inquiry panel comprising former Supreme Court judge Justice V.S. Sirpurkar (Retd), former CBI chief D.R. Karthikeyan, and former Bombay High Court judge Justice R.P. Sondurbaldota (Retd) to probe the killings.

Fifty-four witnesses, including 15 policemen, were questioned during the course of the probe, which stretched over 47 days.

On Friday, a bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana and Justice Hima Kohli took on-record submission of the inquiry report — the report had been submitted in February but was admitted on record in court Friday — and issued directions that all records pertaining to the case be sent to the Telangana High Court, which would decide on the further course of action based on the report.

Also read: Veerappan, Ishrat Jahan, Batla House — India’s 10 most controversial ‘encounters’ since 2003

‘Probe a public inquiry’

Rejecting Telangana government senior counsel Shyam Divan’s request to keep the report sealed, CJI Ramana questioned the need for the same. He said the commission had found someone guilty and the matter now had to be looked at by the high court.

The Chief Justice also pointed out that the entire probe conducted by the commission was a public inquiry.

Counsel Divan had stressed that, considering the gravity of the alleged offence committed by the four accused, and in the interest of justice, the report be kept sealed.

The CJI, however, said submissions in court cannot be made without looking at the report filed, adding that the next question is what action has to be taken based on the findings of the report and the high court will now look into that matter and not the top court.

Divan pointed out that, in the past, reports in certain cases were kept sealed, but CJI Ramana said nothing in the report is confidential.

During the inquiry, the commission had on several occasions noted how the police personnel came “well prepared” and just repeated the same answers to different questions.

Fuming over their “inconsistent replies”, especially those of sub-inspector Kore Venkateshwarlu — from whom a 9 mm pistol had allegedly been snatched by one of the accused — the commission had warned them of perjury for lying under oath.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: How it took 76 hours, negotiations and protests for Kashmir encounter victims to bury their dead