The Supreme Court Thursday directed the CBI to submit before a magistrate in Andhra Pradesh its probe report on the alleged staged shootout killing of Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad and journalist H.C. Pandey in 2010.
The apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice C.K. Prasad gave a direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after it disposed of two petitions by not accepting plea seeking an independent probe into the shootout.
Pandey's widow Bineeta Pandey and activist Swami Agnivesh had sought a judicial probe or an investigation by a special investigation team into the gun battle, alleging that it was staged.
Azad and Pandey were killed in an exchange of fire between the Maoists and Andhra Pradesh Police in a forested areas in Andhra Pradesh's Adilabad district July 1, 2010.
The court said the petitioners could raise all the issues before the first class magistrate in Adilabad in whose court the CBI would submit its report.
During the hearing, the CBI said it would file a report seeking the closure of the case. Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval told the court that it would be open to the trial court to either accept or reject the closure report or order further investigation.
The CBI March 16 told the Supreme Court that the gun battle in which Azad and Pandey were killed was genuine.
Refuting the submission by counsel Prashant Bhushan who for Pandey’s widow, Raval told the court that the investigation was carried out meticulously and there was no reason to disbelieve the forensic experts.
He asked the court to let contentions raised by the petitioners to be examined by the trial court where doctors who performed the post mortem would be examined.
Raval told the court that the petition by Bineeta Pandey was based on a report by a news magazine on the gun battle. It referred to the opinion of two forensic experts.
He told the court that one of the experts said that it would be difficult and dangerous to form an opinion on the basis of available data.
The petitioner said that Azad was killed by police from a close range and not from a distance of 25 metres as claimed.
Bhushan told the court that Pandey had no intention of going to Adilabad jungles and was carrying a message from Swami Agnivesh for the Maoists.
He said Pandey was booked for return journey in the afternoon on the same day and had even sent an SMS to his editor extending his half day leave to other half also. He told the court the mobile records of Pandey from 6 p.m. June 30 to 10 a.m. July 1, 2010 were not available.
Raval told the court that they requested the service provider to make the records available but they were not made available.
The court said “don’t say please provide us the records but say provide us”.
When Raval said that they have been told by the service provider that records got deleted automatically after some time, the court asked if that was so, then how were records related to periods prior to June 30, 2010, available and not of June 30 to July 1, 2010.