HYDERABAD: A division bench of the Hyderabad High Court on Monday made it clear that it will not order CBI probe at this stage into Seshachalam encounter incident in which 20 alleged red sander smugglers belonging to neighbouring Tamil Nadu state were killed on April 7 this year.
The bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Dilip B Bhosale and Justice S V Bhatt was dealing with the petitions filed by Chilka Chandra Shekar, general secretary of the state Civil Liberties Committee, and family members of the victims seeking to book a case under Section 302 of IPC (murder) against the police personnel involved in the encounter.
The bench refused the request of Vrinda Grower, counsel for the families of the victims, to record statements of Balachandran, Sekhar, and Elango, who are eyewitness in the case, under Section 164 of CrPC before any magistrate in Tamil Nadu state.
While commencing the hearing, the bench recalled its earlier order in which it has ordered recording the statements of three crucial eyewitnesses by the Special Investigation Team, who were reportedly given a slip to the police from a bus in which the police carried 20 persons on the fateful day and eliminated them in the name of encounter after allegedly subjecting them to brutal torture.
V Raghunath, counsel for the Civil Liberties Committee, told the court that the SIT has already recorded the statements of three witnesses prior to the order of the bench. The three witnesses are apprehending danger to appear before the SIT because it has already examined them and recorded the statements.
Intervening, Vrinda Grower placed certain documents claiming that the National Human Rights Commission has recorded the statements of three witnesses and the examination process was recorded in video by the commission.
After perusing the documents placed by Vrinda, the bench pointed out saying that nothing remains in it to pass any further orders.
Raghunath said the SIT is not an independent agency and the CBI probe is necessary as there was involvement of high profile and influential people behind the encounter. Since 1969 to till date about 3600 encounters took place in the state and out of it 2000 encounters have taken place in Chittoor alone which was represented by the Chief Minister himself, and hence seeking the CBI probe into the incident, he added.
The counsel alleged that the officers involved in the encounter have not submitted the accounts of the bullets that are used in Seshachalam encounter till date and in earlier encounter most of the police officers got promotions and enjoying their respective positions.
Reacting to the submissions, the bench said “we are satisfied with the ongoing probe of the SIT and the court itself monitoring the probe and there is no need of a CBI probe at this stage in the case.”
Vrinda Grower contended it is mandatory for the police to register the case under Section 167 (1A) of the CrPC as custodial deaths, but the SIT has not registered the case under the Section till date.
She claimed of possessing the call data of the victims including the location of cell towers on the day in which the encounter was taken place.
The bench then asked her to submit the data to the SIT. The bench directed the SIT to inform the court about the progress of the ongoing investigation and posted the matter to August 3 for further hearing.