The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognisance of an assistant town and country planner’s killing by a hotel owner in Himachal Pradesh’s Kasauli town on Tuesday, ANI reported. Shail Bala Sharma was helping conduct a Supreme Court-mandated anti-encroachment drive when the accused, Vijay Thakur, shot her.

The top court criticised the state government for not providing adequate security to the officials. The police said Thakur opened fire when the officials began razing his hotel’s encroachments, and a stray bullet hit Sharma, according to The Tribune. An employee of the public works department, Gulab Singh, was also injured. Thakur owns Narayani Hotel near Kasauli.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said the incident was “extremely serious” and the hotel owner had committed a “brazen act of defiance of this court’s orders”, The Indian Express reported.

The court will now hear the matter on Thursday. Thakur is absconding and the police have announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for information about his whereabouts, the Hindustan Times reported. “A case has been registered at Dharampur police station,” said Himachal Pradesh Police spokesperson Khushal Sharma.

The accused’s wife and mother claimed he has been under “mental stress” and “on medication” for several months.

Upholding a National Green Tribunal order on April 17, the Supreme Court had said that all illegal constructions made by hotels and resorts in Kasauli must be demolished as they were endangering people. Observing that some hotels had permission for a two-storey building but had built six floors, the court said illegal constructions were responsible for landslides in the area.