The Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government on Friday complained about how Gujarat is singled out every time in the Supreme Court and accused of fake encounters. The complaint evoked a sharp retort from the apex court,which challenged the state government to bring a case of fake encounter from any state and you will not find the court inconsistent.
A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranajan Prakash Desai was hearing petitions by veteran journalist B G Verghese and poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar to bring out the truth behind 22 police encounters between 2002 and 2006 in Gujarat.
The exchange between the court and Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta happened after the Bench brushed aside the state law officers plea for an adjournment till March 12 and went on to order the appointment of Justice H S Bedi,a retired SC judge,as the chairman of a monitoring authority set up to supervise investigation into the 22 encounters.
Incidentally,the authority was set up by Gujarat itself in order to probe the encounters. But on January 25,2012 the SC took it under its wing and gave it blanket powers.
Subsequent to the January order,the issue became complicated when Gujarat unilaterally notified the appointment of a former chief justice of Bombay High Court,Justice K R Vyas,as monitoring panel chief.
The state government wanted Justice Vyas to fill up the vacancy created by Justice M B Shah,a retired SC judge,who opted out shortly after the January order.
On Justice Vyass appointment as chairman,there is nothing for this court to say. But since he was sought to replace Justice M B Shah,any replacement should be made with the express provision of the court. It was not proper to have issued the notification, the court clarified in its order.
Mehta had sought an adjournment the second consecutive one in the case to March 12. But the Bench warned him that his attempts to adjourn the case is going the wrong way. It was at this point that Mehta made an allegation that the petition was by some person with a political background.
Let us not be selective in the implementation of human rights in regard to one state. There are hundreds of human rights issues,the approach of this court should not be different with regard to one state, Mehta submitted.
He said the State of Gujarat also intends to file an affidavit asking the court to go into human rights issues and encounters in all states.
To this Justice Alam said: Then you will find the court responding to you with the same alacrity. Bring any other case of encounter in any other state…
It is not that we do not trust your mechanism. We trust the system you put in place. But someone will have to monitor it, he added.