Gujarat Encounters: SC rejects Gujarat govt's objection

 Lyricist Javed Akhtar

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.

During the period, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister and BJP president Amit Shah was the home minister. A PIL filed in 2007 by eminent journalist B G Verghese and script-writer and poet Akhtar claimed members of the minority community were targeted.

On Wednesday, 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 on the findings.

"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, a former SC judge, was appointed the chairman of the monitoring committee by the apex court on February 27, 2012. He gave his 221-page 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.

The court also noted Justice Bedi has given an eight-page reply to its query, saying the final report was filed after consultation with members of the monitoring authority.

As the court took up the matter, 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 is sent only to the trial court.

The Gujarat government counsel again contended that the petitioners did not have any locus to get the copy of the report. The council 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.

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