The sensational killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in an alleged fake gun battle and the murder of his wife and a friend are likely to be probed by the Supreme Court's Special Investigations Team (SIT), which is inquiring the 2002 Gujarat communal riots.
The Supreme Court on Monday ordered that the 2005 killings by the Gujarat police will be investigated by the probe panel headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director RK Raghavan.
Sohrabuddin was shot dead by the Gujarat police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in November 2005. Soon after, Sohrabuddin's wife Kausar Bi went missing. It was alleged that his wife and other witness Tulsiram Prajapati were also killed by the police to destroy evidence.
A bench of Justice Tarun Chatterjee and Justice Aftab Alam decided in principle to hand over the Sheikh's killing probe to the Raghavan panel, which is presently probing the alleged role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, bureaucrats and politicians in fomenting the communal trouble in the state.
The formal order for transfer of the probe of Sheikh's killing from the state police will be issued next Tuesday.
The bench also asked the Gujarat government to be prepared for an ad-hoc compensation to Sohrabuddin's brother Rubabuddin Sheikh, who is a third-stage cancer patient and is terminally ill.
"You are admitting that it was a fake encounter. You have to pay the compensation," the bench told the Gujarat government counsel Mukul Rohatagi while asking the state to be mentally prepared to pay the damages to the kin of the fake encounter's victims.
"It would only be a question of quantum," the bench added.
As Rohtagi sought a trifle long adjournment to seek instructions on the issue from his client, the Gujarat government, the bench observed, "That would be too long, too late. Compensation cannot wait."
Last year, the bench had first indicated that the killings of Sheikh, his wife and friend will be probed by the Raghavan panel.
On the apex court's earlier order, the case is presently being investigated by a Gujarat police team.
Police have booked several of its officers, including then deputy inspector general DG Vanzara and an Indian Police Service officer from Rajasthan and arrested them for their role in the killings.