The Telangana High Court on Monday asked the state government to preserve the bodies of the four men accused of allegedly raping and killing a woman veterinarian till December 13. The suspects were killed in a police encounter near Hyderabad last week, after which the court had directed state authorities to preserve the bodies till 8 pm on December 9, and record the postmortem examination on video.

The High Court ordered that the bodies of the four men will have to be transferred to Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad in air-conditioned ambulances to prevent any decomposition. The attorney general was asked to produce documents on filing of the first information report against the police for the encounter deaths.

The court asked the attorney general to highlight other directions in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties versus State of Maharashtra case, stating clearly that this judgement is law under Article 141 (law declared by the Supreme Court) of the Constitution and therefore must be implemented.

The High Court will take up the case again on Thursday, a day after the Supreme Court also hears two pleas filed in the case. Advocate Prakash Reddy was appointed as the amicus curiae to assist the court in this matter.

The accused were shot dead in the early hours of Thursday while they allegedly tried to flee the police. They had been taken to the crime scene for reconstruction of the sequence of events. The Telangana High Court’s earlier order was passed on Friday on the basis of a representation received by the chief justice’s office, alleging that the police action was extrajudicial killing.

A similar petition has also been filed in the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the matter on Wednesday. The petitioners have sought an investigation and filing of an FIR against the police personnel involved in the killing.

The accused – Mohammed Areef, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu – were arrested on November 29 for allegedly raping and killing the woman two days earlier. They burnt the woman’s body. They were in judicial custody and lodged in high security cells in Cherlapally Central Prison.

The National Human Rights Commission also sent a team to conduct a spot inquiry and said the matter needs to be investigated “very carefully”. Human rights organisation Amnesty International India criticised the killings, saying the incident sets a “disturbing precedent of circumventing the legal system” and called for an independent inquiry.

Several people have cautioned against the dangers of “extra-judicial killings” while many politicians praised the Telangana Police and the government for “delivering justice”.