Madras HC Orders CBI Probe Into 'Encounter Death'

Madras HC Orders CBI Probe Into 'Encounter Death'
Over 12 years after a Telecom Department engineer-turned-extremist was killed in an encounter with police in Dharmapuri district, Madras High Court today ordered a CBI probe into the death and said there was prima facie evidence to show that police themselves had violated the law.

In its order on an plea by Nirmala,widow of K Ravinder, who alleged that her husband was killed in a 'fake' encounter on Jan 10, 2000, a Division Bench said they were pained "at the prima facie evidence available before us to show that there is violation of law by the protectors of law themselves."

Transferring the investigation on the file of Marandahalli police station to CBI, the Bench, comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and M Venugopal, directed police to ensure smooth transition of all records of the case, if any, within a month.

The Judges directed CBI to complete its probe, as per law, and file the final report before the court concerned within six months from date of receipt of the entire case records.

The Bench rejected a prayer for a direction to CBI to register a case of murder under IPC section 302 against police personnel responsible for the death.It was for CBI to decide against who the case should be registered and under what section of law, it held.

Prima facie the version by police departments seemed doubtful and there was some "foul play" by some police personnel in the death of Ravinder, who allegedly joined the 'Radical Youth League' and subsequently became an extremist after developing contact with Peoples War Group.

If such serious allegations of human rights violations, particularly by law protectors themselves, were left without proper probe it would shake people's confidence in entire political system in particular and democracy as a whole,it held.

The Bench made it clear that any observation made in the order "is only for the limited purpose of deciding the issue, whether investigation is to be handed over to the CBI or not and shall not be construed as an expression of opinion on the merits of the case by this court."

The Bench also made it clear that it was not casting any aspersions on police.

According to the appellant, an assistant professor in law at Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, her husband had worked as a junior engineer in the Telecommunications department since 1982 and resigned in 1987 and proceeded to work for the poor. She claimed that her husband had been a social worker and not an extremist.

Originally she had filed a plea seeking a compensation of Rs 10 lakh from the state government for his "custodial death". She had also demanded registering of a murder case against those responsible for his death and a CBI probe.

The petition was dismissed by a single judge.

Police, however, claimed that Ravinder was an extremist, who was allegedly trained in manufacturing crude bombs and trained secondline leaders of the extremist group. Besides, he also allegedly conducted 'katta panchayats' (kangaroo courts).

Police said on receiving information about his whereabouts in Perunkaddu village on January 9, 2000, the place was surrounded and he was asked to surrender.He, however, opened fire and in the return fire by police, he was killed.
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