SC to hear after next week pleas seeking probe into alleged fake encounters in Gujarat

PTI, Sep 13, 2023, 4:28 PM IST

The Supreme Court Wednesday said the two separate petitions seeking a probe into the alleged fake encounters in Gujarat from 2002 to 2006 will come up for hearing after the next week. The apex court was hearing separate pleas filed in 2007 by senior journalist BG Verghese, and noted lyricist Javed Akhtar and Shabnam Hashmi, seeking a probe into the alleged fake encounters. Verghese died in 2014.

The pleas came up for hearing before a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that a letter seeking adjournment of the hearing has been circulated by one of the parties as senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing some private respondents in the matter, is unavailable due to health reasons. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for one of the petitioners, said the matter has been pending for a very long time.

Bhushan said the report of the Justice HS Bedi committee, which had investigated several cases of alleged fake encounters in Gujarat from 2002 to 2006, had come long time back.

”Somebody is not well. It (pleas) will retain its position on the board,” the bench said.

Former apex court judge Justice Bedi was appointed as the chairman of the monitoring committee probing 17 alleged fake encounter cases in Gujarat from 2002 to 2006, and had submitted a report to the top court in a sealed cover in 2019.

The committee recommended prosecution of police officials in three out of the 17 cases it probed.

The bench noted a request has been made that the pleas be taken up for hearing after next week.

The Gujarat government had on April 10 voiced reservations over the apex court sharing the available material with the petitioners and said there were ”serious doubts” about their locus standi and motive. The solicitor general, appearing for the state, had told the top court that the petitioners were not concerned about encounters that occurred in other states, including where they lived, and were focused only on Gujarat.

Bhushan had referred to an earlier judgement of the apex court and said it laid down detailed guidelines on how things have to be done in cases of fake encounters. ”Counsel for the state submits that the material encounter-wise has been segregated and the paper books prepared but reservation has been expressed on sharing the same with the petitioners. This reservation is joined in by Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the three officers. Thus, we have to address this issue,” the bench had noted in its April 10 order.

While dealing with the pleas on January 18, the top court had noted in its order that on hearing the advocates for the parties it emerged that ultimately the issue now revolves around three encounters. In its final report filed in the apex court, the Justice Bedi committee had said three persons — Sameer Khan, Kasam Jafar and Haji Ismail — were prima facie killed in fake encounters by Gujarat Police officials. It had indicted a total of nine police officials, including three inspector rank officers. It, however, did not recommend prosecution of any IPS officer.

On January 9, 2019, a bench headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had rejected the Gujarat government’s plea to maintain confidentiality of the final report of the committee and ordered that it be given to petitioners.

The panel had also dealt with 14 other cases which related to alleged fake encounter killings of Mithu Umar Dafer, Anil Bipin Misra, Mahesh, Rajeshwar, Kashyap Harpalsingh Dhaka, Salim Gagji Miyana, Jala Popat Devipujak, Rafiksha, Bheema Maanda Mer, Jogindrasinh Khatansing, Ganesh Khunte, Mahendra Jadav, Subhash Bhaskar Nayyar and Sanjay.

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