SC orders Rs 10 lakh to Gujarat encounter victim`s family

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 00:47

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday
directed Gujarat to pay an "interim ex gratia" of Rs 10
lakh to the family of slain alleged gangster Sohrabuddin
Sheikh and his wife, even as the state government opposed any
move to entrust investigations of the killings to the Special
Investigation Team (SIT).

A bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Aftab Alam
while directing the state to deposit the amount in the court
within a week, said it would hear on September 2 the question
as to whether the killings should be entrusted to the SIT
probing the post-Godhra 2002 communal riots.

Senior counsel Dushayant Dave appearing for
Rubabuddin, brother of Sohrabuddin, said the family was
willing to accept the amount.

At one stage Justice Aftab Alam wanted to know whether
the state was willing to enhance the "ex gratia" from Rs 10
lakh.

"I don`t think so. Your lordships may pass any order,"
senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi appearing for the state said.

It was at this stage that Justice Chatterjee jokingly
remarked that he was expecting the ex-gratia to be only in
"thousands."

When Justice Alam repeated his question, Rohtagi stuck
to his stand that the state was not willing to enhance the
amount any further and if the court felt otherwise, it was
free to pass any order.

To a query from the Bench, Rohtagi also said the state
was not agreeable to the suggestion for entrusting the probe
into the killing of the couple to the SIT.

"We don`t accept it. We have to be heard," the counsel
said in response to a poser from the Apex Court as to whether
the state was willing to transfer the case to the SIT headed
by former CBI director R K Raghavan.

The Gujarat police had initially claimed Sohrabuddin
was a gangster involved in extortion and had nearly 54 cases
registered against him in different states.

It was claimed that he was killed in an encounter
with the Anti-Terrorists Squad (ATS) of Gujarat police and
Rajasthan police.

After the killing, Sohrabuddin`s younger brother
Rubabuddin wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India
alleging the killings were stage managed. The Apex Court
treated the letter as a PIL and ordered a probe.

Subsequent investigations by the Gujarat police
established the fake encounter theory resulting in
half-a-dozen officers being arrested and suspended. Apart from
Sohrabuddin`s killing it also came to light that the
deceased`s wife Kauser Bi was also picked up along with him
and killed. The whereabouts of Kauser Bi`s body is still a
mystery.

Senior Gujarat police officers -- D G Vanzara (DIG),
Raj Kumar Pandiyan (SP) and Dinesh M N (Rajasthan Cadre IPS
officer) are among the main accused in the case and are
presently in jail.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 00:47

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