A Bhopal court on Wednesday pulled up the state government for a nine-day delay in informing it about an alleged jailbreak by eight suspected Islamists who were gunned down hours later in controversial circumstances last month.

The chief judicial magistrate (CJM) also asked why the court should believe the government’s account of the jailbreak based on only the statement of a prison employee.

The court’s observation will put more pressure on the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, which has faced stinging criticism from political parties and activists for alleged human rights violation by police during the operation that led to the death of the eight Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists on October 31.

The under trial SIMI activists were lodged at the Bhopal central jail. Under the criminal procedure code, the court where the case of an accused is being heard has to be informed about an encounter.

CJM Bhubhaskar Yadav asked the government why it informed the court about the encounter nine days late when the state government and police officers made repeated statements to the media on the incident.

Terming it as “a serious matter”, he said the court was yet to be informed if any judicial magistrate was informed before the postmortem of the eight prisoners.

Yadav also said the government announcing a probe meant it was yet to reach a conclusion on the alleged jailbreak.

The CJM also allowed the lawyer of the killed SIMI men, Parvej Alam, to meet four of the SIMI prisoners.

The encounter has thrown several unanswered questions following contradictory versions of police officers prompting the Opposition, rights activists and family members of the killed to demands a probe by a sitting Supreme Court or a high court judge.

The government, however, announced a judicial probe by a retired high court judge four days after the encounter and junked its earlier announcement of an investigation by the NIA.