THE JUSTICE VS Sirpurkar Commission, set up by the Supreme Court to probe the killing in an alleged encounter of four accused in the gangrape and murder of a veterinarian on the outskirts of Hyderabad in 2019, has submitted a report stating that it believes the police deliberately fired on the accused “with an intent to cause their death” — and recommended action against ten police officers and personnel under various charges, including murder.
On Friday, the Supreme Court ordered that the report submitted in a sealed cover be shared, and transferred the matter to the Telangana High Court for further action. The bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, and comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, rejected submissions by Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for Telangana, that the report be kept in the sealed cover.
In its report, the three-member commission stated that it does not believe the police version of events that led to the killing of the four accused when they were taken to the crime scene in the early hours of December 6, 2019, nine days after the gangrape and murder.
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The commission also noted in the report that two of the accused, Jollu Shiva and C Chennakeshavulu, were minors at the time of the incident, based on their school records.
The Commission recommended that ten police officers and personnel be tried under IPC sections 302 (murder) read with 34 (common intent), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence, providing false information) read with 302, and 34. The ten are: V Surender , K Narasimha Reddy, Shaik Lal Madhar, Mohammed Sirajuddin, Kocherla Ravi, K Venkateswarlu, S Arvind Goud, D Janakiram, R Balu Rathod and D Srikanth.
The police had alleged that the four accused — cousins Jollu Shiva and Jollu Naveen, C Chennakeshavulu and Mohammed Arif — assaulted the accompanying police personnel, and tried to snatch their weapons and fire at them.
Referring to the police’s argument in the case, the report stated that “there did not arise any occasion for exercising the right of private defence”.
“After considering the entire material on record, we conclude that the deceased have not committed any offence in connection with the incident on 06.12.2019, like snatching the weapons, attempting to escape from custody, assaulting and firing at the police party,” it said.
“In view of the fact that the Commission has disbelieved that the deceased suspects assaulted the policemen and attempted to escape, the actions of the police officers in deliberately firing at the deceased suspects, is not justified in light of Sections 46 Cr.PC r/ w 60 Cr.PC,” it stated.
“In view of the fact that the Commission has disbelieved that the deceased suspects fired upon the policemen, the actions of the police officers in deliberately firing at the deceased suspects, is not justified in light of Section 149 Cr.PC,” the report stated.
While Section 46 of CrPC details how an arrest is made, Section 60 speaks about the power to pursue and retake a person who has escaped from custody. Section 149 says police officers have to prevent cognizable offences.
The Commission’s report stated that the police officers accompanying the accused to the crime scene were responsible for their safekeeping. “If either acts or omissions they failed to fulfil responsibility, then their common intention to cause the deaths of their dead suspects is established,” it stated.
“Their consequent to the deaths of the deceased conduct suspects in fals, the record would indicate that not only did they act in furtherance of common intention to give false information in order to screen the offenders but also that they all acted with the common intention to cause the deaths of the four dead suspects. Res Ipsa Loquitur (the principle that the mere occurrence of some types of accident is sufficient to imply negligence),” it stated.
“In our opinion, the accused were deliberately fired upon with an intent to cause their death and with the knowledge that the firing would invariably result in the death of the deceased suspects,” it stated.
“These officers cannot take shelter under Section 76 IPC and Exception 3 to Section 300 IPC because their contention that they fired in good faith at the deceased suspects has been disbelieved. Good faith, which is an essential prerequisite of Section 76 IPC and Exception 3 to Section 300 IPC, is found to be clearly absent,” it stated.
Section 76 IPC deals with a situation where an act is committed by a person due to a mistake of fact and not due to a mistake of law, believing in good faith that he is bound by law to do it. Exception 3 to Section 300 IPC says that culpable homicide will not amount to murder if it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury, which is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.
According to the police, the 26-year-old veterinarian was kidnapped, gangraped and murdered by the accused on November 27, 2019, at Chattanpally in Shadnagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad. They said the accused later burned her body.
On December 12, 2019, staying dates on the case in the Telangana make up High Court, the Supreme Court of the three-member Commission to probe the incident and submit a report within six months — it later extended the deadline.
Apart from retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Sirpurkar, the commission included former Bombay High Court judge Justice Rekha Sondur Baldota and former CBI director DR Karthikeyan.
According to the police, the accused were taken to the spot to recover articles belonging to the victim. While at the site, the four attacked the police with sticks and stones and tried to snatch their guns, the police claimed. The officers opened fire in self defense killing all four, they claimed.
The Supreme Court’s intervention came on two petitions seeking an independent investigation against the police officers alleged involved.