The High Court of Kerala on Monday held that investigation should be carried out into the alleged encounter killings of two Maoists - Karthika Kannan and Manivasakam - by Kerala police in Agali forests two weeks ago.
Disposing of the petition filed by the relatives of the slain Maoists, Justice R Narayana Pisharadi ordered :
"...the circumstances under which the death of Karthik @Kannan and Manivasakam had occurred and the cause of their death shall be investigated and it shall be found out whether the police offiers who had participated in the encounter have committed any offence in relation to the death of the aforesaid persons".
The Court further directed that the firearms used by the police officers for the encounter operation should be seized and sent for forensic and ballistic analysis. Also, finger prints of both the hands of the dead persons, if already not taken and preserved properly, should be taken immediately by appropriate method before cremation. A report of compliance of these directions should be filed in the Sessions Court Palakkad.
The Court has granted liberty to the petitioners to approach the Sessions Court if they feel aggrieved with the investigation at a later stage.
Last week, the Court had stayed the cremation of the dead bodies.
The brother and sister of Karti and Manivasagam respectively had initially approached the Sessions Court contending that the police has failed to follow the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the PUCL judgment regarding the follow-up probe of encounter killings.
The Session Judge found that there were no lapses on the part of police. The petitioners challenged before HC this finding stating that the Sessions Judge had not even examined the postmortem reports before passing the order.
The Apex Court had, in PUCL v. State of Maharashtra, in 2014, issued 16 guidelines to be followed in the matters of investigating cases of death and grievous injuries in police encounters. The Court said that these guidelines will operate as the standard procedure for thorough, effective and independent investigation. The guidelines include mandatory magisterial inquiry into encounter deaths and providing information to the close relatives of the victims without any delay.
The top court stated that the the family of the victims of encounter killings can file a complaint to the Sessions Judge having territorial jurisdiction over the area, if they feel that the police has failed to follow the procedure laid down by the apex court.
The Court also prohibited granting out-of-turn promotion or instant gallantry rewards on the concerned officers soon after the occurrence.