In February 2012, 5 persons, suspected to be bank robbers, were killed in a shootout in Velachery

Giving a clean chit to the city police in the Velachery encounter case, the Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a batch of petitions that sought the registration of a case of murder against the police personnel involved.

The petition also sought the transfer of the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

On February 23, 2012, five persons, suspected to be bank robbers, were killed by the city police in a shootout in Velachery. Immediately after the incident, public interest litigation petitions were filed in the High Court by activists including P. Pugalenthi, director, Prisoners Rights Forum. They alleged the police did not want to investigate the bank robberies and were bent on killing the suspects.

A division bench comprising Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice Aruna Jagadeesan rejected the petitions and said they were based on hearsay. The petitioners had no personal knowledge or substantive proof on the matter, the Bench said.

Contending it was a clear case of murder committed by police officers, the petitioners alleged that instead of resorting to legal methods of apprehending the accused and bringing them to trial before the court, the police resorted to elimination of the suspects in a fake encounter. Hence, the police officers involved should be booked for murder, they said.

The counsel for the police vehemently argued that police personnel were also human beings and if they opened fire to defend themselves, it could not be brought under the definition of murder.

Rejecting the contentions of the petitioners, the Bench said, “The magistrate report nowhere suggested anything to doubt the veracity of the version of the police. Likewise, another report submitted by the deputy superintendent of police, Police Research Centre, Crime Branch CID, held that the death of the five armed gangsters occurred when they attempted to kill the police personnel, who were taking all efforts to arrest them. The police returned fire in order to protect the lives of the public at large and their own lives.”

The judges said the petitioners were in no way connected with the deceased persons and they had no other material, except media reports, to say the police concocted a story after killing the accused.

Stating that the State government had swiftly transferred the investigation to the Crime Branch-CID, the Bench dismissed another plea for a CBI probe.

“The petitioners are completely third parties to the incident. They cannot be permitted to poke their nose into the investigation under the garb of public interest litigation, that too without any material and knowledge about the same, except hearsay evidence and media reports”, said the Bench.

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