Hyderabad Encounter: Supreme Court extends time limit for concluding probe by six months

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The Supreme Court today extended by six months the time limit for completion of the Inquiry Commission’s probe into the Hyderabad Encounter Killing of December 2019.

The apex court was informed that the commission has been unable to conclude the probe due to some unavoidable reasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The four accused — Mohammed Arif, Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu, Jolu Shiva, and Jollu Naveen were arrested in connection with the gang-rape and murder of a young veterinary lady doctor in November last year.

On December 6 last year, these four accused were killed in an encounter in Hyderabad by Telangana Police.

According to the police, the incident had taken place at around 6.30 am when these accused were taken to the site of offence for reconstruction of the crime scene as part of the investigation.

They were shot dead on NH-44 near Hyderabad — the same highway where the charred body of the 27-year-old veterinarian was found.

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An application, filed through the secretary of the inquiry commission in the apex court, said, In view of the circumstances narrated above which are beyond the control of the commission, the Inquiry Commission has not been able to conduct proceedings in accordance with the terms of reference.

“Therefore, the Inquiry Commission is constrained to apply to this court for an extension of time of six months from the date the commission is able to function with physical hearings, spot inspections etc. to submit its final report,” it said.

The commission said it had held its first sitting at Hyderabad on February 3 this year.

It said that 1,365 affidavits were filed by various persons, including the police personnel involved in the incident and the family members of three of the deceased.

The plea said the affidavits of police personnel involved in the incident were received only on June 15.

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“Almost all of these 1,365 affidavits and their supporting documents were in Telugu,” it said, adding that the records were translated into English and were verified.

It said the commission had proposed to sit for hearings on March 23 and March 24 at Hyderabad but due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, it was constrained to suspend these sittings.

It said the commission explored the possibility and viability of conducting online hearings and sittings to complete the report expeditiously.

“However, the hearings of the inquiry commission would invariably require recording of evidence of witnesses as well as participation of advocates, which presents difficulties of security and confidentiality,” it said.

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“Moreover, the inquiry requires physical inspection of the scene of incident and other related locations, which is also not possible in a virtual hearing. Conducting inquiry without physical hearings, spot inspections and so on does not appear to be feasible,” the plea said.

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