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AP HC asks Centre to reconsider awards to top cops

By Mohammed Siddique
March 20, 2010 18:13 IST
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A division bench of the Andhra Pradesh high court has asked the state home ministry to reconsider its decision, taken in 2003, to honour three senior police officers with gallantry awards, as they were given sans the minimum verification of recommendations by the state government.
The then state intelligence chief A Shiv Shankar, then deputy inspector general, special intelligence bureau Sriram Tiwari and then superintendent of police Karimnagar district Nalin Prabhat were given gallantry awards in connection with the killing of three top leaders of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation People's War in 1999.
The bench comprising Justice G Raghuram and Justice G V Seetapathy, disposing the public interest petition of lawyer K N Rao, criticised the manner in which the state government recommended the names of the three officers and the way in which the central government awarded them the medal without minimum verification.
Observing that the way the home ministry dealt with the issue has put the prestige and integrity of the medals in jeopardy, the court asked the central government to reconsider the awards. The Centre's contention, that it went by the recommendation of the state government, was not accepted by the court.
However, the court maintained that it was not a proper

forum to decide whether the awards should be withdrawn.
While the officers had claimed to be present at the site of the 'encounter' at Koyyur forest in Karimnagar district on December 2, 1999, other Indian Police Service officers alleged that they not at all involved in the incident and Sriram Tiwari was on leave on that day.
Three central committee members of the Maoist organisation, Nalla Adi Reddy alias Shyam, Seelam Naresha alias Murli and Santosh Reddy alias Mahesh, were killed in the mysterious incident. While the police maintained that they were killed in an encounter, the People's War and civil rights groups claimed that the trio was arrested by the police from their shelter in Bangalore, brought to Karimnagar in a helicopter and killed in a fake encounter.
The state government had ordered a probe in the matter after some IPS officers lodged a complaint. But the inquiry was dropped in 2007 after the officers claimed that they were present on the spot of the encounter, but their names were not included in the records on the grounds of security.
In retaliation to the killing of the three top leaders, Maoists had killed then home minister A Madhav Reddy in a landmine blast in March 2000. They also staged a failed assassination attempt on then chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in October 2003.

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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad