Gujarat government was at the receiving end of the Supreme Court once again on Friday for having appointed new chairman of the monitoring committee that was last month directed to carry out a thorough probe into 22 encounter killings between 2002 and 2006 in the state.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai was miffed with the haste shown by the Gujarat government in appointing former Bombay High Court chief justice KR Vayas in place of former SC judge Justice MB Shah to head the committee. The replacement was done following Justice Shah's reluctance to continue in the panel on account of personal and health matters, the state claimed.
“You should have taken us into confidence as it (replacement of the chairman) had to do something with our order. We had deposed faith in an individual. There are many considerations (for appointment) and some may be taken consciously or sub-consciously. You have unnecessarily complicated the matter,” the bench told senior counsel Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Gujarat.
The bench had on January 25 issued a directive to the committee headed by Justice Shah to probe into the encounters. Though the committee was set up by the state itself, the court found it fair to hand over the investigation to it instead of constituting a special investigation team or ordering a CBI inquiry as prayed by in the litigations filed by journalist B G Verghese and poet Javed Akhtar.
Since Justice Shah quit the panel, the government on Thursday issued the notification to appoint Justice Vayas. Apprising SC about the new appointment, the state counsel said the committee would carry out the SC’s directive to complete the probe within three months.