The Gujarat High Court on Thursday said it would have to work out a “model” for the Special Investigation Team, probing the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, following differences among the three SIT members.
A Bench of Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari said the model would have to be worked out to see that the “sanctity and spirit of the court's order is not paralysed due to difference of opinion amongst the team members.”
The Bench was hearing an application moved by the SIT head and Delhi Joint Police Commissioner Karnail Singh seeking to appoint an amicus curiae for the Supreme Court-appointed SIT to deal with any legal complications that might arise during the course of the investigation. Mr. Singh himself was not present before the court. But the differences came to the fore when another member, Satish Verma, a Gujarat IPS cadre officer, raised objections, saying Mr. Singh had moved the petition without obtaining the consensus of the team. He said the application was moved by Mr. Singh in his personal capacity and not as SIT Chairman. Moreover, the petition was vague and did not mention the issues on which legal advice might be needed.
Mr. Verma claimed that the court could appoint an amicus curiae of its own accord but no SIT officer could make such a request. “If the SIT needed legal advice, it could get a legal adviser appointed by the State government.”
Contradicting him, the other member, Mohan Jha, informed the court that Mr. Singh had informally discussed the issue with the members at a meeting in a Mehsana circuit house. Mr. Jha, also a Gujarat IPS cadre officer, said he was in favour of the application for the appointment of amicus curie.
After the submissions, the court sought to know whether there was any ‘group' clash in the SIT. Mr. Verma said it was not a “group clash but only a difference of opinion.” He alleged that Mr. Singh's attitude to the investigation and such difference of opinions would amount to hampering the probe and, consequently the very purpose of the creation of the SIT — to unearth the truth — would be defeated.
The court said it would have to hear Mr. Singh and others and would have to decide the issue. “However, we don't want any indiscipline in the SIT made by us,” the Bench noted.
The court posted the matter to January 28, when Mr. Singh would have to be present.