With the Gujarat government admitting that Sohrabuddin Sheikh was killed in a fake encounter, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the State to come clean on such incidents by ordering an investigation to go to the root of the matter.
A Bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Aftab Alam is hearing a petition filed by Rubabuddin for a CBI probe into the encounter death of his brother in the early hours of November 26, 2005 and the subsequent killing of Sohrabuddin’s wife Kausar Bi. The present plea is to refer the incident to the court-appointed Special Investigation Team headed by R.K. Raghavan, who is probing the 2002 Gujarat riot cases.
When senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Gujarat, strongly opposed this plea, saying a charge sheet was already filed in the case, Justice Alam said: “When you [the State] admit that it is a fake encounter, the great concern of the State must also be to go to the bottom of the matter. Why not put such encounter deaths beyond debate? The State should come forward to go beyond all possible debate or controversy. This is no less disturbing. Why don’t you agree to a SIT probe?”
Mr. Rohatgi said conducting further or fresh investigation would prejudice the prosecution case and delay the trial. It would also mean lack of confidence in the trial court, the High Court and the whole judicial system in the State, which would have wide ramifications.
Justice Alam said: “The question of referring the matter to the SIT has arisen as there have been allegations that the investigations by the Gujarat police are just an eyewash and an attempt to cover up the conspiracy in the case. The whole integrity of the investigation has been questioned. Till now, you have not explained how Kausar Bi was killed. Her manner of death is unknown.”