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Encounter deaths in the Disha case: Telangana government questions Supreme Court-appointed commission’s recommendations

Print edition : Aug 05, 2022 T+T-

Encounter deaths in the Disha case: Telangana government questions Supreme Court-appointed commission’s recommendations

People show their support for the police at the encounter site where the four accused were shot dead, at Shadnagar in Ranga Reddy in December 2019.

People show their support for the police at the encounter site where the four accused were shot dead, at Shadnagar in Ranga Reddy in December 2019. | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

The Telangana government has questioned the recommendations made by the Supreme Court-appointed commission that inquired into the encounter deaths of four persons in November 2019 who were facing charges of kidnapping, raping, and murdering a veterinarian on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

The Justice V.S. Sirpurkar Commission, had, in a damning indictment of the Telangana police and the K. Chandrashekar Rao government, held that the killing of the four accused in the gruesome case was a fake encounter. The commission had recommended that the 10 police personnel involved in the encounter be prosecuted for the offence. It also found the Telangana police guilty of destroying and/or withholding evidence.

The commission found that the four accused, three of whom were minors, were “deliberately fired upon” with the intention to kill them during the police encounter. All the accused were gunned down under a bridge on the Bangalore-Hyderabad national highway on the outskirts of Chatanpally village in Ranga Reddy district.

Releasing the commission’s findings, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Hima Kohli had transferred the entire pending proceedings before it to the Telangana High Court for adjudication after perusing the commission’s report.

When the matter came up before a Telangana High Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Surepalli Nanda on July 5, the Telangana Advocate General B.S. Prasad, requested the bench to provide all the documents, annexures, witness statements, and video clips relating to the encounter on which the commission had based its findings. He then contended that the apex court had only asked the High Court to deal with the report of the commission.

Stated the Telangana Advocate General: “We have to study all the documents and statements. We have to examine whether a commission of inquiry can make such a recommendation.” The State sought four weeks’ time to examine the report and the associated material.

Briefing the bench on the Disha rape and murder, the subsequent killing of the four accused and the decision of the Supreme Court to appoint the Justice Sirpurkar commission, senior counsel D. Prakash Reddy also sought a complete report of the commission’s findings. Prakash Reddy, who was appointed amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter, further requested the bench to issue notices to the police officers who have been indicted in the commission’s report. The court, however, declined to immediately issue notices, observing that the State was yet to be heard on the matter.

The bench, after directing the court registry to furnish copies of the material sought by both the Telangana Advocate General and Prakash Reddy, adjourned the case to August 5 for further hearing.