In an embarrassment to the Gujarat government, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed its plea challenging the constitution of a special investigation team (SIT) by the Gujarat High Court to probe the "fake" encounter killing of teenager Ishrat Jahan and three others.
A bench of justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar rejected the state's plea contending that the SIT, constituted by the state government, should be allowed to continue and that the high court had no power to constitute another SIT.
"How can the state come with such a plea? Court is not deprived of its power. In exceptional cases, it can do (constitute a team). In the facts of the case, we find no reason to interfere," the bench observed, dismissing the state's plea.
Appearing for the state government, senior counsel Harish Salve and Mukul Rohtagi had contended that the high court had no power to constitute an SIT.
Earlier, the apex court had asked the Gujarat High Court to constitute a separate SIT to probe Ishrat Jahan's killing allegedly in a staged encounter by the Gujarat police.
The apex court had asked the high court to appoint a separate SIT on a plea by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT, headed by former CBI director R K Raghvan, expressing inability to probe the case.
But the Gujarat government in turn had approached the court challenging the constitution of an SIT and saying that a probe into the case be given to another SIT formed by the state government.
The court had earlier even issued notice to Ishrat Jahan's mother Shamina Kausar on the state's plea.
The state government had also challenged the partial acceptance of Tamang Committee report of September 7, 2009, which had held the encounter as "fake" and sought prosecution of the officers responsible for it.
Mumbai-based Ishrat (19) was killed in an encounter along with Javed Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, Amjad Ali alias Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani by state crime branch officials near Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.
Following the encounter, the Gujarat Police had claimed that Ishrat and three other slain youths were Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives on a mission to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
It had also claimed that the encounter was carried out following specific inputs from the central intelligence agencies that LeT was planning to carry out attacks in various parts of the country.