Internal Turmoil Can't Justify Fake Encounters: SC

New Delhi
Internal Turmoil Can't Justify Fake Encounters: SC
No amount of internal turmoil in the country can justify fake encounter killings by the police, the Supreme Court said today and asked Andhra Pradesh government to file a status report on the probe relating to the killing of a top Maoist leader and a journalist.

A bench of justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha also hinted that it may entrust the probe to an independent investigating agency under the supervision of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) as the present investigation by the state CB-CID may not inspire confidence.

"No amount of internal disturbances can allow it (encounter) to happen," the bench said when senior counsel Altaf Ahmed, appearing for Andhra Pradesh government, argued that Maoist leader Cherkuri Rajkumar and journalist Hemchandra Pandey were killed in a genuine encounter and cited the growing incidents of Maoist violence in the country.

Azad, a senior member of banned CPI (Maoist) Central Committee, and Pandey were killed in an alleged fake encounter on the intervening night of July 1-2, 2010, in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh.

The state's counsel said law-enforcing agencies, including para military forces, were fighting against several odds as Maoists had spread their tentacles in the country creating largescale internal disturbances.

However, the bench asked the state to submit a status report before April 15 the next date of hearing.

The apex court also asked counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Bineeta Pandey, widow of Hemachandra Pandey, to suggest a suitable mechanism "within the structure like the State Human Rights Commission" for investigating the killings.

"We may consider entrusting the probe to an agency within the structure if the present investigation does not inspire confidence," the bench said.

According to Bhushan, Azad and Pandey were picked up, drugged and shot dead by the police in a fake encounter in Adilabad and inisted that only a judicial probe could establish whether it was a genuine or a fake encounter.

Swami Agnivesh, who has been mediating between the Maoists and the government for a ceasefire in the ongoing hostilities, quoted members of the banned outfit to concur with Bhushan's allegation that Azad was picked up by the police and shot dead in a fake encounter.

He alleged that a letter written by him to Rajkumar for working out a truce was found on the deceased's body at the encounter site. Swami Agnivesh said he had written the letter in response to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram's personal request to him to help work out an amicable solution to the Maoist problem.

"We have no reason to disbelieve Swami Agnivesh at the moment," the bench remarked when Altaf Ahmed tried to dispute the claim.
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