On Friday, the Hyderabad High Court ordered the state government to register a case for murder under Section 302 in the encounter of 20 "smugglers" in the forests of Chittoor on Tuesday.
The Andhra Pradesh government alleges that the 20 dead men, who belong to Tamil Nadu, were red sandalwood smugglers. The Tamil Nadu government claims the men were labourers. The state government has refuted allegations that these men were killed in a "fake encounter."
Earlier in the day, the Madras High Court refused to order a fresh autopsy on six men, but ordered preservation of their bodies till April 17, 2015. The petition for the medical re-examination was filed by Muniammal, the wife of one of those killed, The Hindu reported.
The bodies would be preserved at a mortuary in the Thiruvannamalai district headquarters government hospital, about 170 km from Chennai, the newspaper reported.
“There is no jurisdiction for this court to pass any order on re-postmortem because already Andhra Pradesh High Court is seized of the matter and there is PIL pending in the Supreme Court... this court cannot pass any order as there is no FIR filed in the jurisdiction of this court,” the judge said.
On Wednesday, the National Human Rights Commission issued notices to the chief secretary and the DGP of Andhra Pradesh calling for report on the killings to be submitted with two weeks.
People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has condemned the incident. "It's a misnomer to call this (as) an encounter, for in reality what has happened is a massacre of people alleged to have been involved in illegal felling," said PUCL National General Secretary Dr V Suresh.