Gujarat encounter killings: SC for sharing of Justice Bedi`s report

Supreme Court permitted 5 reports of Justice HS Bedi, which looked into cases of 22 alleged fake encounter killings in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006, be supplied to the parties involved in the matter.

New Delhi: Supreme Court on Friday permitted that five reports of a panel headed by its former judge, Justice HS Bedi, which looked into the cases of 22 alleged fake encounter killings in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006, be supplied to the parties involved in the matter.
A bench of chief justice P Sathasivam and justice Gogoi asked the apex court registry to supply the reports within a week to the parties who are connected with the matter and posted the case for final hearing from August 14.

The apex court on March 2, 2012 had appointed its retired judge, Justice H S Bedi as the chairman of the monitoring authority looking into the cases of alleged fake encounter killings, during the four year period in Gujarat, purportedly showing a pattern that people from the minority community were targeted as terrorists.

The Court had brushed aside the allegation of the Gujarat government that it was "selectively" targetted on human rights issue and the same yardstick was not applied in dealing with cases of alleged encounter killings in other states.

"You bring human rights violations from other states. You will find we will respond with same alacrity," a bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam had said while appointing Justice Bedi as the chairman of the monitoring authority.

Later, the state government filed a petition in the apex court to bring into its ambit the encounter killings in all states and the plea is pending before another bench.

Since taking over the task, Justice Bedi filed five reports in sealed cover before the apex court, which had wanted the supervision and monitoring of the investigation to be done by "someone whose integrity is completely beyond any question".

The bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam (since retired) had rejected the Gujarat government`s plea seeking time to sort out the issue of appointment of chairman.

The apex court had expressed its displeasure that after
another former apex court judge Justice M B Shah quit as the chairman of the monitoring authority, the Gujarat government appointed former Bombay High Court Chief Justice K R Vayas to the post without consultation with it.

Before Justice Bedi`s appointment, the apex court had on January 25, 2012 asked the monitoring authority to place before it a preliminary report within three months on the killings in alleged fake encounters.

The bench had passed the order on the two PILs filed by veteran journalist BG Verghese and poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, who had sought a direction for a probe by an independent agency or the CBI so that the "truth may come out".

Verghese had said the pattern of killings showed there was a need for investigation and had sought a direction to the Centre and the Gujarat government to order an inquiry into the encounter killings and compensation to the next of the kin.

Akhtar, in his petition, had cited news reports and a sting operation done by a news magazine into the killing of an alleged criminal Sameer Khan in October 2002.

The bench, in its order, had noted his allegations that it was a fake encounter and that there was an attempt for its "cover up" by the Gujarat government.

Khan, who was in police custody, was killed on the intervening night of October 21-22, 2002, when he allegedly snatched the revolver of a policeman who had accompanied him with a team to a spot where he had been accused of having murdered a constable.

An FIR was registered alleging that Khan was involved in a conspiracy hatched by Pakistan`s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) to assassinate Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi and other leaders.

Akhtar, who jointly filed the petition along with social activist Shabnam Hashmi, had alleged it was the same team of Gujarat police which allegedly killed Sohrabuddin Sheikh in the fake encounter and later murdered his wife Kauser Bi.

Their petitions, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, had contended there were other media reports of alleged killings of innocent persons in fake encounters by the same team of Gujarat police and sought investigation by an SIT into the "cover-up".