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The Gujarat government, on Monday, expressed its reservation in the Supreme Court on sharing with petitioners material relating to alleged fake encounters between 2002 and 2006, and whose probe was monitored by a former top court judge Justice H S Bedi
Justice Bedi – a former judge of the Supreme Court – was appointed on March 2, 2012 to head the monitoring committee to supervise the investigation into 22 cases of alleged fake encounters in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006. He has already submitted his final report long back.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Gujarat government, told a bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah that the petitioners were not concerned about the encounters that occurred in other states, including where they lived, and were focused on Gujarat. He questioned their locus standi in the matter and their motives.
“People staying somewhere in other states have identified a particular period of encounters,” Mehta said, alleging selective public interest. In an apparent reference to the noted lyricist Javed Akhtar, Solicitor General said that one of the petitioners stays in Maharashtra, where the encounters had taken place but he is not bothered about that.
The solicitor general said the investigations were carried as per the Code of Criminal Procedure and no material should be shared with the petitioners.
On the outset of the hearing today, advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for Akhtar told the bench that the Gujarat government has not done anything in these cases.
The top court was hearing two separate pleas filed in 2007 by senior journalist B G Verghese, (who passed away in 2014) and the other by noted lyricist Javed Akhtar and Shabnam Hashmi, seeking a probe into the alleged fake encounters.
It is not the first time that Gujarat government has tried to hold back information on investigation into 22 fake encounters cases that took place between 2002-2006 but earlier too on January 9, 2019, it had tried to block the petitioners getting Justice Bedi’s report on eight alleged fake encounters.
Brushing aside Gujarat government’s plea not to give a copy of Justice Bedi’s report to Javed Akhtar and refusing to keep it confidential, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L Nageswara Rao (both since retired) and Justice Sanjay Krishan Kaul had on January 9, 2019, directed that a copy of the Justice H S Bedi committee report on eight cases of fake shootouts in Gujarat be furnished to the petitioner, noted lyricist Javed Akhtar.
In the final report to the top court, the Justice Bedi had identified three persons prima facie killed in the fake encounters by Gujarat Police, including nine police officials and three inspector rank officers. It, however, did not recommend prosecution of an IPS officer.
The judges fixed further hearing on July 12.