The Gujarat government told the Supreme Court on Thursday that the petitioners who have sought a probe into the alleged fake encounters in the state from 2002 to 2006 need to explain the reasons for their “selective public interest” in raising the issue.
A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta was hearing two 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.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state, told the bench that encounters have taken place in other states also.
“They (petitioners) say we want investigation of a few encounters during a particular period in the state of Gujarat. Why this selective public interest? They have to answer that,” he told the bench.
“The petitioners will have to satisfy the court about their selective public interest,” Mehta asserted.
The Supreme Court had earlier appointed a monitoring authority headed by former top court judge Justice H S Bedi which had probed 17 alleged fake encounter cases in Gujarat from 2002 to 2006.
The committee, which had submitted its report in a sealed cover in 2019, recommended prosecution of police officials in three out of the 17 cases it probed.
In its final report filed in the Supreme Court, the committee had said three persons were prima facie killed in fake encounters by the Gujarat Police. During the hearing on Thursday, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for one of the petitioners, said the committee report has already come before the court.
“All that is needed to be done is to prosecute those persons who have been identified in the report,” he said, adding the panel has come to a prima facie conclusion in three cases.
“The matter is required to be heard,” the bench observed, and posted the pleas for hearing after two weeks.
The Gujarat government had earlier voiced reservations about the locus standi of the petitioners.
In its final report filed in the Supreme Court, the Justice Bedi committee had said three persons — Sameer Khan, Kasam Jafar and Haji Ismail — were prima facie killed in fake encounters by police. 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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