In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Friday allowed making the report submitted by a Court-appointed judicial enquiry commission into the alleged Hyderabad encounter killings of December 2019 public.
A bench led by the Chief Justice of India rejected the State of Telangana's demand that the report should be kept in a sealed cover and allowed the copies of the report to be shared with the petitioners who have filed PILs seeking enquiry into the encounter.
The bench also remitted the case back to the Telangana High Court.
On December 12, 2019, the Supreme Court had constituted a commission headed by former SC judge Justice VS Sirpurkar and comprising former Bombay HC judge Justice Rekha Baldota and former CBI Director Karthikeyan to enquire into the alleged encounter killings fo 4 men on December 6, 2019, who were accused of gang-rape and murder of a veterinarian doctor.
After enquiry, the Commission submitted a report to the Supreme Court. On Friday, the bench, also comprising Justice Hima Kohli, expressed the intention to remit the matter to the High Court for further action.
Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the State, opposed the making of the report public.
"There's nothing to keep as confidential. The Commission has found someone guilty. We want to send the matter to the HC. It is a public inquiry which is conducted!", CJI Ramana said.
CJI expressly stated that the contents of the report have to be disclosed. "Once a report is there, it has to be disclosed", the CJI said.
When Divan submitted that the Court has in past allowed reports to be sealed in past, the CJI said that in matters of national security, the Court has done so. "This is an encounter case", the CJI said.
"Why should this court not put in public domain?", Justice Kohli asked.
"It is a public enquiry.. what is confidential is this?", the CJI asked.
Senior Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the petitioners, pointed out that the Supreme Court had allowed the enquiry report into the Manipur killings under the AFSPA to be made public, though it was a matter relating to the armed forces. She added that the Commission hearings were in public and the depositions were also made in public.
The bench disposed of the matters dicating the following order :
"Report was submitted by Commission. We direct the Commission Secretariat to provide a copies of reports to both parties. It is left open to the parties to make submission. We transmit entire matter back to HC. HC to consider submissions of the parties. PIL is disposed of"
Case Title : GS Mani and another versus Union of India | WP(Crl) 348/2019 and connected cases.