The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought names of former top court judges who can conduct a judicial inquiry into last week’s controversial killing of four men accused of raping and murdering a veterinarian in Hyderabad, PTI reported. The court would select one retired Delhi-based judge, according to Bar and Bench.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and comprising of Justices SA Nazeer and Sanjeev Khanna said the Telangana High Court can proceed with its hearing in the case. “We are conscious of the fact that the Telangana High Court had taken note of it,” they added. The court will hear on Thursday petitions seeking the registration of a First Information Report against the police personnel involved in the December 6 encounter.

On Monday, the Telangana High Court had asked the state government to preserve the bodies of the four men till December 13. The High Court ordered the transfer of the bodies to Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad in air-conditioned ambulances to prevent any decomposition. The attorney general was asked to produce documents on the registration of a first information report against the police for the deaths. The High Court will also take up the case on Thursday.

Police version of the encounter

The Telangana Police said the four accused were shot dead in the early hours of December 6, when they attempted to flee from custody. The accused attempted to break out while being taken to the murder site to reconstruct the sequence of events. They allegedly snatched a weapon and fired at the police, forcing the police to shoot back.

The four – Mohammed Areef, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu – had been arrested on November 29 for allegedly raping and killing the woman before burning her body. They were under judicial custody and lodged in high security cells in Cherlapally Central Prison.

The National Human Rights Commission sent a team after the killings to conduct a spot inquiry and said the matter required a careful investigation. Human rights organisation Amnesty International India criticised the shooting, saying the incident set 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”.