Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 12
Justice HS Bedi committee that looked into 17 alleged fake encounters in Gujarat during 2002-06 when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister has said there was evidence of foul play in three cases and recommended probe against nine police officers.
Former Gujarat DGP Shreekumar had hinted at selective targeting of Muslim extremists. The panel, however, said there has been no selective elimination and that the allegations were too general in nature.
Recommending prosecution of police officers involved in the custodial deaths of Kasam Jafar, Haji Haji Ismail and Sameer Khan, the Justice Bedi committee recommended grant of compensation to the next of kin of the deceased.
In a petition filed in 2007 in the top court, journalist BG Verghese (since dead), lyricist Javed Akhtar and activist Shabnam Hashmi had raised questions over the encounter deaths in the state between 2002 and 2006. Alleging that the encounters were fake and stage-managed, the petitioners had demanded an independent probe into the matter.
Justice Bedi had submitted his report to the top court in a sealed cover on February 26, 2018, but it was shared with the petitioners only after a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi rejected the Gujarat government’s objection to making the report public.
“He is the petitioner. He has set the law in motion... Then why can’t he?” it had said on January 9 and directed that the report be shared with the petitioners so that they could assist it in reaching a conclusion. However, it had made it clear that it would take a decision on accepting or rejecting the report only after hearing the petitioners and the Gujarat government.
On behalf of the Gujarat government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had raised objections on the validity of the final report, contending it was not on behalf of the committee but by Justice Bedi in his individual capacity.
A former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Bedi was appointed chairman of monitoring committee to oversee the work of a special task force (STF) set up by the Gujarat government to investigate custodial deaths/encounter deaths. Seventeen such cases were specifically referred to STF and Justice Bedi panel examined these 17 cases.
Rules out selective targeting of Muslims
Former Gujarat DGP Shreekumar had hinted at selective targeting of Muslim extremists. However, the Justice HS Bedi committee that looked into 17 alleged fake encounters in Gujarat during 2002-06 said there has been no selective elimination and that the allegations were too general in nature.