The Supreme Court on Thrusday dismissed a petition by the Gujarat government for a uniform policy ensuring independent probe into alleged fake encounter cases in all states over the last decade.
“How can a court interfere into law and order matters? These are all state subjects. It is state’s prerogative to take actions. Apart from you (Gujarat), no other state has agreed on forming a national task force for such a probe,” said a bench led by Chief Justice R M Lodha.
The bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, said the SC could not allow the Gujarat’s prayer for mandating a uniform policy in this regard since there was no consensus among the states.
It noted that the Narendra Modi government’s demand to constitute a common special task force (STF) for investigating the alleged fake encounters across the country was not tenable under the constitutional scheme. The bench cited opposition to such a proposal by states such as Karnataka, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, among several others.
The apex court had in April 2012 sought replies from the Centre and all state governments on the plea.
The Gujarat government had alleged that some vested interest groups were selectively targeting its police force over the encounter deaths. It had sought a direction from the court asking all states to set up an independent monitoring authority or special task force on lines of the one constituted by Gujarat to probe encounter killings, and submit investigation reports to the SC.
It alleged a blind eye was being turned to serious human rights violations and fake encounters in Maharashtra and other places, while targeting only Gujarat. “It is a matter of record and cannot be seriously disputed that between 1998 and 2000 special squads of Bombay Police ‘cleaned up’ (the expression then used) about 300 strong Bombay underworld dons with an average of 100 encounters a year,” the petition said.
The state referred to encounter killings during the fight against terrorism in Punjab and said that similar incidents were prevalent in Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal.