'Final report on Guj encounters to be given to parties'

'Final report on Guj encounters to be given to parties'

Rejecting the Gujarat government's plea, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that the final report of the Justice H S Bedi Committee on 24 alleged fake encounter cases from 2002 to 2006 in the state be given to parties of the petition. PTI file photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the Gujarat government's objection to a plea by lyricist Javed Akhtar to provide him with a copy of the final report of the Justice H S Bedi-headed monitoring authority into the investigations in 24 alleged fake encounters between 2002 and 2006.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjay Kishan Kaul also brushed aside the state government's plea for keeping the report confidential to avoid any possible media trial.

"Objections will be considered at the stage of acceptability and rejection of the report. Before accepting or rejecting the report, should we not give it to the petitioners," the bench asked advocate Rajat Nair, an associate of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

Bedi, former SC judge, was appointed the chairman of the monitoring committee by the apex court on February 27 2012. He gave his final report on February 26, 2018.

"We are of the view that the copy of the report should be furnished to the petitioners as well as the Gujarat government to file their response," the bench said and put the PIL filed by Akhtar and eminent journalist late B G Verghese for consideration after four weeks.

As the court took up the matter, Solicitor General's associate Nair sought adjournment on the ground that his senior was busy in some other matter.

"It is for the SG to arrange his business. If he has made a choice that he would not appear in the first court of the country, so be it," the bench said.

The court also rejected a plea by senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, contending that the monitoring committee's report should be sent to the trial court only.

The Gujarat government counsel again contended that the petitioners did not have any locus to get the copy of the report. The counsel also claimed it might prejudice the proceedings against those named in the report.

"The report will become effective when the court accepts it," the bench repeated.

"The petitioners have set the ball rolling and they have set the law into motion. They are entitled to the copy," the bench said.

The court also referred to its previous orders as well as Justice Bedi's response to conclude that he submitted his final report after due consultations with the monitoring committee members.

The Gujarat government had earlier contended Justice Bedi has filed the final report as chairman of the monitoring authority into the investigations in 24 alleged fake encounters between 2002 and 2006 in Gujarat, apparently without discussions and deliberations with other members.

On this, the court requested Justice Bedi to respond.

Accusing the petitioners of abusing the court's process, the state government had claimed they were making “selective prayer with some unknown hidden agenda” and tried to give an impression that the monitoring authority was a “one man commission”.

Verghese, now no more, and Akhtar through their PIL in 2007 sought a direction for a probe by an independent agency or the CBI so that the "truth may come out". The petitioners, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, had claimed the members of the minority community were deliberately tragetted in those encounters.