New Delhi: Expressing full faith in the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) inquiry, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to order another probe into the Batla House shootout last year, in which a police inspector and two suspected terrorists were killed.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Manmohan turned down the plea for any judicial inquiry or a probe by a special investigation team into the September 19, 2008, shootout in the south Delhi area of Jamia Nagar.
The court was hearing a petition filed by an NGO called Act Now For Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD).
"The NHRC is a statutory body and its investigation into the case is satisfactory. It is very difficult for us to now to send the matter to a third party for any further enquiry," the bench said and made clear that it will pass an detailed order later on.
The Bench said: "NHRC's prestige and dignity should be maintained and passing on the inquiry to some other agency is not advisable at this point of time."
Appearing on behalf of ANHAD, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, said: "The NHRC being a statutory body should have conducted the proper investigation into the case. But on the contrary, it has just verified the police version which is not fair. Our demand is only this that the police version should be put to serious scrutiny."
On this the Bench said, "It is very difficult to imagine the right situation and we cannot predict what occurred there as we are not experts too. So inquiry is maintainable at this stage."
Bhushan also said: "This incident has shaken the confidence of one particular community in the society and the NHRC's probe is adding to their concern. It is not an ordinary encounter. So it is necessary that inquiry should be conducted."
The NHRC had in its report in July given a clean chit to the police in the south Delhi shootout, but the NGO has termed the probe as "not fair".
The court also issued notice to the Press Council of India asking for laying down guidelines on how the media should cover such an incident, and slated the next hearing on October 21.
"Media plays a very important role in disseminating information but these days media is conducting a regular trial which affects the mindset of judges who also adopt the approach that their case should not be seen in a bad light. It is a very thin line and it should be maintained," the Bench said.
The court was referring to an interview of one of the suspected terrorists published after he was arrested.
Two suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists were killed in the gun battle. 'Encounter specialist' police inspector M C Sharma also lost his life in the shootout.
It was alleged that police had staged the incident to ward off pressure after serial blasts in Delhi had killed 20 people a week before.