New Delhi: The Centre and the Andhra Pradesh government have opposed judicial probe into the killings of top Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad and journalist Hemchandra Pandey in an alleged fake encounter nine months ago.

The state government, in its affidavit, refuted the allegation that the police had killed them in a fake encounter and submitted that they lost their lives in an exchange of fire between them and security forces.

"All experts had opined that the bullet injuries on the bodies of the deceased were caused by long-range firing and not by way of shots being fired at a close range," the state government said in its 33-page reply while referring to the post-mortem report.

The state government said there was nothing unusual in an exchange of fire between the police and the members of a banned outfit as the state has been facing the severe problem of Naxalism.

"The state has been prone to Naxal violence and there had been exchanges of fire between the police and armed Maoists," the affidavit said.

The Centre said the state government saying the "state has taken all possible steps" and the petition seeking a judicial probe is needed to be dismissed.

"In the present case, the state government has taken all possible steps within their command and nothing is lacking, warranting the issuance of mandamus by this court and the petition is liable to be dismissed," the Home Ministry said in its three-page affidavit.

The governments' response came after the Apex Court had issued a notice to them on January 14 on the separate petitions filed by social activist Swami Agnivesh and Pandey's 30-year-old widow Babita seeking a judicial probe in the case.

A bench of justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha had expressed displeasure over the incident and had remarked "we cannot allow the republic killing its own children."

Azad, a senior member of banned CPI (Maoist) Central Committee, and Pandey, who was dubbed by the police as a Maoist, were killed in an alleged fake encounter on the intervening night of July 1-2, 2010, in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh.

The petitioners referred to the fact-finding carried out by Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO), a national coalition of human rights organisations, that both were killed by the Andhra Pradesh Police in blatant violation of their rights under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

The petitions alleged Azad, 58, who carried a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head and Pandey, 32 were killed from a very close range which is evident from the post-mortem reports of both the persons.