The Supreme Court-appointed inquiry Commission probing the encounter killing of the four accused in the case of gang-rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad, has directed the Telangana government to present its evidence before it on August 21.
The government has been asked to present its evidence at the Commission’s premises in Telangana High Court, where the three-member Commission, headed by former apex court judge V.S. Sirpurkar, will hold the hearing virtually through video conferencing.
The Commission said that it will examine 18 witnesses on August 26, 27 and 28 using the same procedure.
The panel, which early this month received another six month extension, decided to commence hearings in a hybrid form wherein, some witnesses will be examined in the physical presence, and some in virtual presence of the Commission.
All the witnesses, commission’s advocates, state government’s advocates and advocates for the persons served with the notices under Section 8B of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 and all other persons and advocates permitted to participate in the hearings have to appear before the Commission physically at the Commission’s premises.
The Commission Secretary, in a statement, said that while the hearings are open to public, in view of social distancing norms and restrictions imposed to prevent spread of Covid-19, limited number of pass holders will be allowed into the viewing area at a time.
The Secretary stated that the Commission has completed the collection of records and it was moving on to evidence recording phase.
A total of 1,333 affidavits from general public, and 103 affidavits from police officials, government officials, witnesses, and doctors were received. Voluminous record of the investigation by the SIT, CDRs, medical reports, forensic and ballistic reports and other reports were collected.
The Commission held 16 virtual hearings and passed orders in 24 applications filed by the police officials involved in the incident.
Considering the gravity of the issue under inquiry and the sensitive nature of the evidence of the Commission is of the opinion that witnesses have to be examined in its physical presence. However, Covid-19 pandemic has made it difficult to conduct physical hearings at Hyderabad, it said.
The panel was set up on December 12, 2019 to inquire into the circumstances leading to the encounter and was to submit a report in six months.
The term of the inquiry panel has been extended thrice.
The four accused were shot dead on at Chatanpally on National Highway-44 near Hyderabad, the same highway where the charred body of a 27-year-old Disha (as the victim is referred to by the investigators) was found.
According to police, Disha was kidnapped and sexually assaulted near Outer Ring Road (ORR) on the outskirts of Hyderabad on the night of November 27, 2019. After the sexual assault, the accused murdered her, took the body to Chatanpally and set it afire.