Anhdra Pradesh government today agreed to a CBI probe into the killing of top Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar and a journalist in an alleged fake encounter with the police after the Supreme Court questioned how the state Governor and DGP can give a clean chit to the cops involved in the incident.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha, however, reserved its order for a CBI probe after senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the state, sought time for seeking instructions from the government and allowing him to talk to the Union Home Ministry for agreeing to a CBI probe.
The counsel made the offer after the bench expressed concern at the allegation that the Maoist leader and scribe Hemchandra Pandey were bumped off in a fake encounter and yet the State Governor and DGP had given a clean chit to the accused police officers.
Counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Bineeta Pandey wife of the slain journalist, sought a probe by an independent investigating agency as the state police he alleged was biased.
In addition, he submitted that even before a formal probe, the state Governor and the DGP on the very next day had gone on record to claim that it was a genuine encounter and such statements were bound to influence the state police.
Agreeing with the submission, the bench asked the state "how could the DGP and the Governor make such a statement on the very next day? Why did your investigating officer not take a statement at least under 161CrPC from Swami Agnivesh"?
The counsel for the state, however, insisted the encounter was genuine and such incidents happen at regular intervals in which both the cops and the Naxalites lose their lives.
However, the bench shot back "an incident of this type should not happen."
When the state's counsel persisted with the argument that the encounter was genuine, the bench said, "We just can't afford to have an iota of doubt. It must be conducted by an agency and be processed to the total satisfaction of this court.
"It is desirable that an outside agency must conduct the probe. What is the objection? The investigating officer will directly report to us," the apex court said.
The apex court also wondered why the AP police did not choose to record the statement of social activist Swami Agnivesh under Section 161 CrPC.
The state counsel submitted the investigating officer went to the house of deceased journalist Pandey's house but found that Swami Agnivesh was upset and not in a mood to talk to the police.
"Is that how you do the investigation," the court said.
"It will be in the interest of the state if the matter is investigated by an outside agency so that the truth will come out, the bench said and adjourned the matter briefly for senior counsel Harish Salve to represent the state.
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