The Supreme Court on Friday extended by six months the time given to a panel to finish its investigation into the encounter killing of four persons, accused of the gangrape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad, PTI reported.

On December 12 last year, the top court had appointed the three-member inquiry commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice VS Sirpurkar. Former Bombay High Court judge Rekha Sondur Baldota and ex-Central Bureau of Investigation Director DR Karthikeyan are the other members of the panel.

On Friday, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde passed the order while hearing a plea filed by the panel, seeking an extension of six months to conclude its probe and submit its final report in the case.

The encounter

The accused were shot dead in the early hours of December 5 while they allegedly tried to flee the police. They had been taken to the crime scene for reconstruction of the sequence of events.

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.

On December 10, the Telangana High Court asked the state government to preserve the bodies of the four men till December 13. The Supreme Court ordered a judicial inquiry into the encounter on December 12. The court also stayed proceedings by the Telangana High Court and National Human Rights Commission in the matter.