Four gang-rape and murder accused who were killed in a police encounter in Telangana's Hyderabad "were deliberately fired upon with an intent to cause their death", a Supreme Court-appointed Commission said today. Three of the four were minors, the damning report on the conduct of Hyderabad police added. The police had claimed the three were 20-year-olds.
The Commission also pointed out glaring lapses in the investigation of the case and recommended that 10 policemen be tried for murder.
"In our considered opinion, the accused were deliberately fired upon with an intent to cause their death and with the knowledge that the firing would invariably result in the death of the deceased suspect," the report said.
"We are of the opinion that at the relevant time, Jolu Shiva, Jolu Naveen, and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu were minors," it said.
The four accused - Mohammed Arif, Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu, Jolu Shiva, and Jollu Naveen - were arrested in connection with the gang-rape and murder of a veterinary lady doctor in November 2019.
The four accused were shot dead on NH-44 near Hyderabad - the same highway - where the charred body of a 27-year-old veterinarian was found.
The police had claimed that on November 27, 2019, the woman veterinarian was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and later found murdered. It had said that the accused had subsequently burned the body of the woman.
The Supreme Court had today ordered sharing of the sealed cover report of a three-member inquiry commission on the encounter killings of four accused in a case of gang rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad, and transferred the matter to the Telangana High Court for further action.
A bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli did not agree to the submissions of senior advocate Shyam Divan that the report is kept under a sealed cover.
"This relates to the encounter case. There is nothing to keep here. The Commission has found someone guilty. We want to send the matter to the high court," the bench said.
The top court, on August 3, last year, had granted the extension of six months to the Commission, headed by former top court judge VS Sirpurkar, to file the final report on the encounter killing of the four accused in the case of gang-rape and murder of the veterinarian.
The Sirpurkar panel was set up on December 12, 2019, to inquire into the circumstances leading to the encounter and was to submit the report in six months.
The other members of the Commission include former Bombay High Court judge Rekha Sondur Baldota and ex-CBI director DR Karthikeyan.
The term of the inquiry panel has now been extended thrice. It was extended in July 2020 for the first time for six months.