HYDERABAD: The High Court on Monday decided to directly monitor investigation into the Seshachalam encounter, being carried out by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), and directed the latter to submit its report within 60 days.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta and Justice PV Sanjay Kumar, felt the local investigation officer’s probe wasn’t going in the right direction and instructed him to handover the investigation, complete with all related files, to the SIT chief. The bench further ordered the SIT chief to report to it directly and not consult any government official without its prior permission.
The bench issued the directives on petitions filed by the Civil Liberties Committee and kin of the encounter victims seeking a CBI probe into the incident in which 20 woodcutters from Tamil Nadu were killed by the Andhra Pradesh Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force.
While perusing the case diary of the investigating officer, which was submitted by the AP advocate general P Venugopal, the bench noticed that the officer had obtained the public prosecutor’s opinion before issuing the FIR.
As per provisions of the CrPC, once information on commission of a cognizable offence is received, the station house officer concerned has to register a case and proceed with the investigation — public prosecutor’s opinion at this stage is uncalled for. The investigating officer took legal opinion from the public prosecutor unnecessarily, the bench observed and directed the SIT to immediately take the FIR and case diaries and carry out its probe. “If needed, the government can be asked to appoint a special public prosecutor for the present case at a later stage,” it said.
V Raghunath, counsel for CLC, submitted that SIT chief Dr Ravi Shankar Ayyanar was known as an ‘encounter specialist’ and Chandrasekhar, SHO of the Chandragiri police station under whose jurisdiction the encounter took place, was made a member of the SIT. However, the bench said it cannot take a call in this regard until there was enough material and directed the petitioners to submit affidavits with supporting evidence by Friday.