The Supreme Court on Friday appointed justice HS Bedi, a retired judge of the apex court, as the chairman of a panel monitoring the probe into 22 cases of alleged fake encounters in Gujarat during 2002-06.
"The supervision and monitoring of the investigation in the cases should be done by someone whose integrity is completely beyond any question," a bench of justice Aftab Alam and justice Ranjana Prakash Desai said. It asked the monitoring panel to submit its interim report within three months.
The SC directed the Gujarat government to extend full cooperation and extend all facilities to justice Bedi to enable him to make meaningful and effective investigation into the alleged fake encounter cases.
The bench, which had taken exception to the state government appointing former Bombay HC Chief Justice KR Vayas to the post without consulting it, refused to give more time to the Narendra Modi government to persuade Justice MB Shah, who had expressed his desire to be relieved of the responsibility.
Pointing out that there was another PIL on fake encounters in all the states was pending before another bench of the SC, the Gujarat government counsel requested this bench to either transfer the Gujarat case to that bench or itself deal with the other case as well.
But the bench did not agree. "You bring a case of fake encounter from other state we will take it up," it said, adding, "We consider the state government as our constitutional ally in this case."
There are PILs filed by journalist BG Verghese and lyricist Javed Akhtar seeking a probe by an independent agency or the CBI into the fake encounters.