SC awaits report on ‘encounter’ deaths in Gujarat

The alleged incidents happened in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006

July 02, 2016 03:38 am | Updated December 17, 2016 03:56 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The Supreme Court on Friday decided to wait eight weeks for a commission led by former Supreme Court judge, Justice H.S. Bedi, to submit its report on 22 alleged fake police encounter deaths in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006.

Commission ‘working’

A Bench of Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud was told by advocate Prashant Bhushan that the commission was “working”.

Justice Bedi was appointed chairman of the commission in 2012 by the Supreme Court, which had observed that it wanted the supervision and monitoring of the investigation in the cases to be done by “someone whose integrity is completely beyond any question.”

“We, accordingly, deem it fit to request Justice Bedi to head and monitor the investigation of the cases of alleged fake encounters enumerated in the writ petitions,” a Bench comprising Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai had said.

Two petitions

The case is based on two separate petitions filed by eminent journalist B.G. Verghese and lyricist Javed Akhtar seeking an independent investigation into the 22 deaths.

The 22 cases, however, did not include those which were already being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigatons or the Special Investigation Team as per Supreme Court or High Court orders.

In his petition, Mr. Verghese had raised suspicions about how the “encounter killings span a range of persons that includes workmen who have come in from outside the State to suspected terrorists. The ages of those killed are in the range between 22 and 37. It is not clear if the families of those killed are even aware of the fate of these young persons.”

“There is a need to investigate this pattern and there must be a system in place to ensure that armed personnel do not easily do away with lives of citizens,” he had submitted.

Police version

Mr. Akhtar, in his submissions, had alleged that in all these cases the police version was invariably that the “victims” were terrorists from Jaish-e-Mohammed.

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