The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on a petition seeking a court-monitored inquiry into police encounters against alleged criminals in the state, ANI reported. The plea had sought the inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation or a Special Investigation Team.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said the encounters are a very serious matter and require a detailed hearing. The court scheduled the next hearing for February 12. The petition was filed by People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Citizens Against Hate, according to Live Law.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan told the court that the National Human Rights Commission was looking into 17 encounter cases and urged the court to ask the panel for a status report. The top court said the matter will be considered during the next hearing.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, denied allegations of foul play. Rohatgi said the government was carrying out an investigation in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court and the NHRC.

On January 11, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had said four human rights experts have expressed concern about allegations that the Uttar Pradesh Police had committed at least 59 extrajudicial killings since the Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power in the state in March 2017. Citizens Against Hate on Monday informed the court about the UN agency’s concerns.

In July 2018, the Supreme Court had issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on a petition alleging that several fake encounters have taken place in the state in the recent past. The National Human Rights Commission also issued the Adityanath-led government a notice in November.

The UN office had said that these experts have sent detailed information to the Indian government about 15 such cases, most of which concern poor Muslims. “They have yet to receive a response to their letter,” the UN office had said.