New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday said an independent and impartial inquiry into the encounter killing of the four accused in the gang-rape and murder of a veterinarian in Telangana "cannot be scuttled" on the ground that trial is going on against them.
It said the police has lodged an FIR on the encounter against the four accused who are dead and cannot be represented and "the trial will end up being a mockery".
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde observed that "it is a matter of inquiry" and asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Telangana government, to "be fair about it".
"We are considering inquiry into the action of the police," said the bench, also comprising Justices S A Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna while stressing that "people have the right to know the truth".
The bench told Rohatgi that "if you run a criminal trial against the police, we will not issue any order, but if you do not do this then we will order an inquiry".
The senior advocate said that the state government was following all the guidelines laid by the apex court on the encounter killing and there no need of the inquiry by the retired judge of the apex court.
The bench questioned Rohatgi for resisting an inquiry saying "there is a question of credibility we expect you to be more statesman-like in this".
"We are not saying you (police) are guilty. We are not saying you are wrong. At this stage we don't know anything," the bench said, adding, "We are talking about an inquiry, not about anyone's guilt".
The senior advocate said if the inquriy would be done by the retired judge of the apex court than all other inquiry ordewred by the High Court and NHRC be stayed. When advocate M L Sharma, who has filed a petition for SIT probe into the encounter killing sought for compensation to the families of the four accused, the bench said, "We won't close our eyes to what those boys might have done. They won't get any extraordinary consideration".
At the outset, the bench said: "We are of the considered view that there should be some inquiry. Let there be impartial inquiry." Rohatgi said there was no problem for impartial inquiry but drew the attention of the bench to the suo motu investigation by the NHRC.
The bench said investigation may have been carried out by other body but the result of the investigation will have to be evaluated by a committee. "And that committee will evaluate and will submit a report. That's all," it said, adding that if the state was going to prosecute the policemen involved in the encounter then the trial court will go into it, there will be nothing for the apex court to do.
"If not, people should know the facts. So a committee will go into it," the bench said. The bench was categorical that the trial against accused in this case was of no consequence since all four are dead now.
"They can't present their case at all. It will only be policemen giving their evidence. Be more fair...the trial will end up being a mockery," the bench observed.