The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Uttar Pradesh government why gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf were made to walk on their way to a medical check-up before they were killed. The court has asked the Adityanath government to submit an affidavit on the incident, Live Law reported.

The Ahmed brothers were shot dead on April 15 from close range by three men posing as journalists while police personnel were taking them for a medical check-up. They were in custody in a murder case.

“Why were they [Ahmed brothers] not taken to the hospital gate in an ambulance?” the court asked on Friday. “Why were they made to walk and paraded?”

A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta was hearing a plea filed by advocate Vishal Tiwari seeking an independent inquiry into the killing. Tiwari had also sought an inquiry into the 183 “encounters” that have taken place in Uttar Pradesh since 2017.

The Ahmed brothers were in custody in connection with the murder of lawyer Umesh Pal, who was a witness in the killing of Bahujan Samaj Party MLA Raju Pal in 2005. Umesh Pal was shot dead in Prayagraj on February 24. Days later, the Uttar Pradesh Police booked Ahmed, his wife Sahista Parveen, two of their sons, Ashraf, among others, for Pal’s murder.

In connection with the Umesh Pal murder case, the police gunned down Ahmed’s teenage son Asad and an aide in Jhansi on April 13. Two more accused in the case were also shot dead in “gunfights” by the police on February 27 and March 6.

“Encounters”, or extrajudicial executions, have risen since the Bhartiya Janata Party government came to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.

Also read: Why Atiq Ahmed’s killing was a death foretold

A month before being killed, Atiq Ahmed had approached the Supreme Court apprehending that his life was under threat from the Uttar Pradesh Police. A division bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi dismissed his plea and told him to move to the High Court instead.

At Friday’s hearing, the Supreme Court also asked the Adityanath-led government how the killers got to know that the Ahmed brothers were being taken to the hospital, PTI reported.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing on behalf of the Uttar Pradesh government, told the court that a Special Investigation Team is looking into the killings and an inquiry commission has been set up.

“This man and his entire family are embroiled in heinous crimes for the last 30 years,” Rohatgi said, according to PTI. “It is probable that the two were killed by those whose wrath they had encountered. This is one of the angles we are looking into.”

The court will hear the matter next after three weeks.