SC panel nails police lie in Hyderabad encounter case

The Supreme Court-appointed inquiry commission has concluded that the killing of four accused in 2019 gang-rape and murder of a 26-yr-old vet was a ‘fake encounter’ staged by Telangana cops

The Supreme Court-appointed inquiry commission’s report into the cold blooded killing of four accused arrested for the 2019 gangrape and murder of a 26-year-old veterinarian has come to the conclusion that it was a ‘fake encounter’ by Telangana police.

It may be recalled that the Telangana government, which was under pressure from people to bring the alleged rapists to instant justice in the rape and murder, did not condemn the alleged encounter killing of the four accused, two of whom are now proven to be minors. The four accused were cousins Jollu Shiva and Jollu Naveen, C Chennakeshavulu and Mohammed Arif.  Now the commission has  recommended murder charges against 10 cops. The Justice VS Sirpurkar panel’s observation was that the accused were deliberately fired at when they were taken to the crime scene. This amounted to ‘instant justice’.

There were many who hailed the “encounter” three years ago — from Ministers to youth organisations in Telangana. Telangana Home Minister M Mahmood Ali, who had backed the police in 2019 and even questioned the victim’s failure to dial 100, said: “I do not want to comment on the issue, let the courts handle it.” On the morning of December 6, 2019, hours after the alleged encounter took place, the family of the victim had hailed the police, with her father saying that they got “relief” and “closure” with the death of the accused. At that juncture as news spread of the alleged encounter, a crowd gathered on the flyover overlooking the site on the Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway, and showered rose petals and flowers on the police officials below.

The police had already given CCTV proof of how the four youths approached the victim after deflating the tyres of her vehicle, took her two-wheeler after promising to fix the tyres, and after committing the crime, purchased petrol to set her body on fire.  That proof was enough to convict them in court but the police were under intense pressure to ensure instant justice because people were angered by the brazen crime.

The Justice V S Sirpurkar Commission, set up by the Supreme Court to probe the killing in an alleged encounter of four accused in the gangrape and murder of a veterinarian on the outskirts of Hyderabad in 2019, has submitted a report stating that it believes the police deliberately fired on the accused “with an intent to cause their death” — and recommended action against ten police officers and personnel under various charges, including murder.

In its report, the three-member commission stated that it does not believe the police version of events that led to the killing of the four accused when they were taken to the crime scene in the early hours of December 6, 2019, nine days after the gangrape and murder.

The commission also noted in the report that two of the accused, Jollu Shiva and C Chennakeshavulu, were minors at the time of the incident, based on their school records.

The Commission recommended that ten police officers and personnel be tried under IPC sections 302 (murder) read with 34 (common intent), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence, providing false information) read with 302, and 34. The ten are: V Surender, K Narasimha Reddy, Shaik Lal Madhar, Mohammed Sirajuddin, Kocherla Ravi, K Venkateswarlu, S Arvind Goud, D Janakiram, R Balu Rathod and D Srikanth.

The police had alleged that the four accused — cousins Jollu Shiva and Jollu Naveen, C Chennakeshavulu and Mohammed Arif — assaulted the accompanying police personnel, and tried to snatch their weapons and fire at them. Referring to the police’s argument in the case, the report stated that “there did not arise any occasion for exercising the right of private defence”.

The Commission’s report stated that the police officers accompanying the accused to the crime scene were responsible for their safekeeping. “If either by acts or omissions they failed to fulfil their responsibility, then their common intention to cause the deaths of the deceased suspects is established,” it stated. “Their conduct subsequent to the deaths of the deceased suspects in falsifying the record would indicate that not only did they act in furtherance of common intention to give false information in order to screen the offenders but also that they all acted with the common intention to cause the deaths of the four deceased suspects”.

“These officers cannot take shelter under Section 76 IPC and Exception 3 to Section 300 IPC because their contention that they fired in good faith at the deceased suspects has been disbelieved. Good faith, which is an essential prerequisite of Section 76 IPC and Exception 3 to Section 300 IPC, is found to be clearly absent,” it stated. Section 76 IPC deals with a situation where an act is committed by a person due to a mistake of fact and not due to a mistake of law, believing in good faith that he is bound by law to do it. Exception 3 to Section 300 IPC says that culpable homicide will not amount to murder if it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury, which is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. According to the police, the accused were taken to the spot to recover articles belonging to the victim. While at the site, the four attacked the police with sticks and stones and tried to snatch their guns, the police claimed. The officers opened fire in self -defence killing all four.

Left stranded with a flat tyre, vet met a gory end 

Waiting for her two-wheeler to get fixed, a 27-year-old veterinarian was sexually assaulted and killed on the outskirts of Hyderabad in 2019. According to Police, the woman was returning home from her clinic a little after 8 pm when she noticed a flat tyre and called her sister, who suggested that she leave her two-wheeler at the toll plaza and take a cab home. But before she could, she was approached by two men, who offered to take her vehicle for repair, police said.

The woman agreed, and as she waited for the men to return, she was ambushed and dragged into the bushes barely 50 metres from Tondupally toll plaza, behind a line of trucks that obscured visibility from the road, police said. According to police, after killing her, the accused took her body to an under-construction bridge a few kilometres away, and set it on fire.