The Gujarat high court on Friday asked Satyapal Singh, IPS, why an officer of his level wanted to opt out of a probe just for not being able to understand the local language.
Singh, a Maharashtra cadre officer, is heading the high court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) probing the controversial encounter deaths of Ishrat Jahan and three others. He, however, wants to be excused because of the “language barrier”, in the sense he cannot follow Gujarati.
“For a senior IPS officer, language could hardly be a barrier for opting out (of) the probe agency,” Justice Jayant Patel told Singh during the hearing on Friday.
Justice Patel also expressed unhappiness with Singh because the latter leaked to the media his letter stating his desire to be relieved.
Justice Patel gave the example of RK Raghavan, who is heading the Supreme Court-appointed SIT probing the 2002 riots without knowing Gujarati. The same is the case with P Kandaswamy, CBI joint director supervising the probe into the encounter deaths of Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati.
Another reason why Singh wants to go is that PP Pande, who led the team that gunned down the four persons in June 2004, is his batchmate. He also cited differences of opinion between the two other SIT members, Mohan Jha and Satish Verma.
Singh was reluctant to take up the job right from the beginning.
The division bench, comprising Justice Patel and Justice Abhilasha Kumari, directed the central government to forward a panel of names for selecting the new chairman of the SIT. The court said the Centre should include officials who were willing to do the job.