07/12/2019 12:49 PM IST | Updated 07/12/2019 1:29 PM IST

Hyderabad Encounter: Telangana High Court Orders Preservation Of Bodies, NHRC Team To Reach Mahbubnagar

The Court order came after it admitted a writ petition filed by a group of concerned women activists and human rights organisations who alleged that the encounter killing was “extrajudicial” in nature.

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Police personnel stand next to the body of a man at the site where Police officers shot dead four detained gang-rape and murder suspects in Shadnagar, some 55 kilometres (34 miles) from Hyderabad, on December 6, 2019

HYDERABAD, Telangana:  A day after the four accused in Hyderabad sexual assault and murder case were killed in an alleged encounter, Telangana police have landed in a tight spot as Telangana High court ordered that the bodies of the slain should be preserved for probe till December 9, 8 pm. 

A team of National Human Rights Commission office bearers is also expected to inspect the bodies which were shifted to Mahbubnagar district government hospital on Friday evening.  

In an order issued late Friday evening, the High Court of Telangana has also asked the state to submit before it a video recording of the postmortem autopsy of the four accused. The video recording should be submitted in a compact disc or in a pen drive, the court has directed. As per the order, the chief justice will hear the matter at 10.30 am on 9 December.

The High Court order came after it admitted a writ petition as a group of concerned women activists and other representatives of human rights organisations approached Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan alleging that the encounter killing was “extrajudicial” in nature.  

The court then ordered the Advocate General of Telangana state to appear before it. The AG informed the court at 8 pm on Friday that the postmortem was being videographed and that a forensic team from Gandhi government hospital in Hyderabad was overseeing the postmortem.  

The petition

In their petition, the activists had written to the chief justice, “Endowing police with the sanction to commit murders of accused is no answer. It only distracts and shields the state from accountability. And celebrating such killings amounts to inhumanity. Such acts are uncivilized, brutal and those police-men responsible for today’s crime must be brought to book. As women’s groups, our challenge after today’s incident only intensifies”. 

The activists had requested the chief justice to “ensure in all circumstances, compliance to the Supreme Court guidelines in the PUCL vs Union of India”. As per this Supreme Court order, the team conducting the investigation should at minimum, “recover and preserve evidentiary material, including blood-stained earth, hair, fibers, and threads...related to the death”. The petition also requested that intact fingerprints of the deceased be sent for chemical analysis. “Any other fingerprints should be located, developed, lifted and sent for chemical analysis,” the petition reads. Evidence including weapons should also be preserved, the petitioners requested. 

“We also demand that all police personnel who participated in the killing of four accused be immediately arrested and prosecuted for the crime of homicide under Sec 302 IPC,” the petition reads. The petitioners also requested that the case be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation since the Telangana police cannot be trusted to be fair in the matter.

Unprepared for probe

As per media reports from Mahbubnagar, the hospital at Mahbubnagar is not equipped to preserve the bodies of the four accused.

“There are only two freezers at the hospital and the bodies have already started decomposing,” TV9 Telugu reported on Saturday morning. Without the required resources, it may be difficult to preserve the bodies for over 48 hours, the news channel reported. 

According to some sources, the police could approach the High Court requesting permission to shift the bodies to Gandhi government hospital in Hyderabad for preservation. 

Meanwhile, family members of two of the accused—Mohammed Areef and Chennakeshawalu—have been staging a protest at Mahbubnagar, accusing the police of murdering the accused. In a press statement, Chennkeshawalu’s wife has asked the police to kill her at the same spot.