SC grants time to Gujarat government to respond to panel's report on alleged fake encounter killings
The court has been hearing two PILs in this regard which were filed in 2007 by veteran journalist B G Verghese and poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, seeking a probe by an independent agency or CBI.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Monday granted a week to the Gujarat government to file its response to the final report of an apex court-appointed committee which has monitored the probe into alleged fake encounter killings in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006.
The top court has been hearing two PILs in this regard which were filed in 2007 by veteran journalist B G Verghese and poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, seeking a direction for a probe by an independent agency or the CBI so that the "truth may come out".
Verghese passed away on December 30, 2014.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogogi was Monday apprised by lawyer Prashant Bhushan that apex court-appointed monitoring committee, headed by former SC judge Justice H S Bedi, had supervised the probe of the Special Task Force (STF) into the encounter killings and has recently submitted its final report in the registry.
Bhushan told the bench, which also comprised Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, that both the petitions now be accorded final hearings.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state government, said the state be given either one or two weeks time to file its response to the report of the monitoring committee and the PILs may be listed for hearing after X'Mas break.
The bench, however, posted the PILs for hearing on December 12 and asked the state government to file its response within a week.
At the outset, the CJI bench referred to huge pendency of cases required to be heard by larger constitution benches of five, seven and nine judges and said, "Why do we hear all these matters.
Now the final report has already been filed in these cases".
The CJI then told Bhushan that there were many old death reference cases, needing urgent hearing, pending with the apex court and asked "tell us, what we should do?" "Of course, they are important matters, but this is also important," Bhushan replied.
The apex court in September 2016 had granted three more months to the STF to conclude its ongoing probe into the alleged fake encounter killings in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006.
The STF, working under the supervision of a monitoring panel headed by former apex court judge Justice Bedi, had probed the alleged fake encounters in the state.
The STF said that it had probed 22 cases and two out of total 24 encounter matters remained to be investigated.
Justice Bedi was appointed as the Chairman of the already functioning monitoring committee set up by the state government on March 2, 2012.
The apex court had asked the monitoring authority to place before it preliminary reports relating to the alleged fake encounters between 2002 and 2006 in Gujarat, purportedly showing a pattern that people from the minority community were targeted as terrorists.
These were submitted periodically.