New Delhi: The Gujarat government on Thursday questioned petitioners’ selective public interest in seeking probe into the alleged fake encounters in the state from 2002 to 2006, while pointing that encounters also took place in other states.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the state government, contended before a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta that encounters have taken place in other states as well. Mehta said that the petitioners say that they want investigation of a few encounters during a particular period in the state of Gujarat. “Why this selective public interest? They have to answer that,” Mehta submitted before the bench. Earlier, the state government had questioned the locus standi of the petitioners.
Mehta stressed that the petitioners will have to satisfy the court about their selective public interest. The apex court was hearing two separate pleas filed in 2007 by senior journalist BG Verghese, who died in 2014, and lyricist Javed Akhtar and Shabnam Hashmi, seeking a probe into the alleged fake encounters. The top court had earlier appointed a monitoring authority headed by former top court judge Justice H S Bedi, which probed 17 alleged fake encounter cases in Gujarat from 2002 to 2006.
On Thursday, advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing a petitioner, pointed out that the committee had already filed its report and sought prosecution of people who have been identified in the report. The apex court was informed that the committee has come to a prima facie conclusion in three cases.
In 2019, the committee had submitted its report in a sealed cover. The committee had recommended prosecution of police officials in three out of the 17 cases it probed. After hearing submissions, the apex court scheduled the matter for further hearing after two weeks. Justice Bedi committee, in its final report filed in the apex court, had said three persons — Sameer Khan, Kasam Jafar and Haji Ismail — were prima facie killed in fake encounters by police.
In January, 2019, a bench headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had rejected the Gujarat government’s plea to maintain confidentiality of the final report of the committee and ordered that it be given to petitioners.
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