The Supreme Court was informed today (January 18) that the report of the Justice HS Bedi-led Monitoring Committee has found evidence of foul play in three out of 17 cases related to alleged fake encounter killings by the Gujarat Police during 2002-2007. The petitioners argued that the police officers identified in the report must be prosecuted.
The pleas were filed by journalist BG Verghese (since expired), poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar, and social worker Shabnam Hashmi, alleging that the encounters were fake and stage-managed. In response, the Supreme Court had appointed Retd. Justice HS Bedi, a former SC Judge, as the Chairman of a Monitoring Committee in 2012 to oversee the investigation carried out by the Special Task Force (STF).
Justice Bedi submitted a report to the court in 2018 in a sealed cover, which was later made public overruling the government’s objections. The report found prima facie evidence of foul play in the cases of Kasam Jafar, Haji Haji Ismail, and Sameer Khan, and recommended the prosecution of nine police officers involved.
During today’s hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta reiterated an earlier stance that the petitioners were targeting a particular state (Gujarat) for alleged encounters in a specific timeframe. He argued that public interest cannot be ‘selective’, and the petitioners must explain their stance.
Senior Advocate Nitya Ramachandran countered that the petitioners are not seeking details, statements, or evidence. Instead, they contend that since Justice Bedi’s report is before the court and has found prima facie evidence of foul play in three cases, the matter must be tried. Advocate Prashant Bhushan supplemented this, stating that the persons identified in Justice Bedi’s report must be prosecuted and a Public Prosecutor appointed for the purpose.
After a brief hearing of submissions, the Bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta adjourned the matter by two weeks.