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SC grants time to Gujarat govt to file affidavit on encounter killings

SC grants time to Gujarat govt to file affidavit on encounter killings

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday granted the Gujarat government a week to file an affidavit into the PILs relating to alleged fake encounter killings in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006 on which a report has been filed by an apex court appointed committee.

The report was submitted in a sealed cover to the court in February this year by the monitoring committee, headed by former apex court judge Justice H S Bedi.

The top court has been hearing two PILs on the matter 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 Gogoi referred to huge pendency of cases, including old death penalty matters in the apex court and said: "Why do we hear all these matters. Now the final report has already been filed in these cases."

It also said it has sought a report from the apex court registry on pendency of matters required to be heard by larger constitution benches of five, seven and nine judges and "the numbers are huge".

"Tell us, what we should do?," the bench posed to lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

"Of course, they are important matters, but this is also important," Bhushan replied.

The bench, also comprising justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, was apprised by Bhushan that the apex court-appointed monitoring committee 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 said that both the petitions may 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 bring on record certain facts relating to the case and sought hearing on the PILs after the Christmas break.

"Office Report indicates that Final Report of Justice H S Bedi, Chairman Monitoring Authority, in sealed cover, has been filed on February 26, 2018. Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General submits that before the court passes any further order he would like to file an affidavit. The said affidavit may be filed within seven days from today," the bench said in its order and listed the two PILs for hearing on December 12.

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 the monitoring panel headed by former apex court judge Justice Bedi, had probed the alleged fake encounters in the state.

The STF said 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.

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