Vikas Dubey encounter: SC rejects plea against composition of probe panel
The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea questioning the appointment of retired Supreme Court judge, justice BS Chauhan, as the head of a three-member judicial commission constituted to probe the encounter killing of gangster Vikas Dubey.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said it is rejecting the plea seeking replacement of justice Chauhan but stated that it is laying down some safeguards regarding the manner in which the commission has to conduct the probe.
The petition filed by Mumbai-based lawyer Ghanshyam Upadhyay questioned the choice of justice Chauhan as the head of the commission, claiming that two relatives of the retired Supreme Court judge were part of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh. Placing reliance on an article published on an online news portal, Upadhyay alleged that justice Chauhan’s younger brother Virender Singh is a BJP member of the UP Legislative Council who, along with his son, switched loyalties to BJP last year from the Samajwadi Party.
It was on Upadhyay’s petition the Supreme Court had earlier directed the UP government to set up a commission to probe the allegations against Uttar Pradesh police in relation to Dubey’s killing. The commission, which was set up on July 22, has retired Allahabad high court Chief Justice Shashi Kant Agarwal and former UP DGP KL Gupta as its other members
During the hearing of the case on August 11, CJI Bobde took exception to Upadhyay’s submissions stating, “We will not allow you to cast aspersions on a former judge of this court based on a newspaper report.”
The bench, which also comprised justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said, “Is any of Justice Chauhan’s relative connected with the encounter or the enquiry….Is belonging to a political party an illegal act. There are many judges whose fathers or uncles are Members of Parliament. Are they all corrupt?”
Upadhyay said, “I am on the independence of inquiry. It will not be fair.”
He had also given suggestions on persons who could replace the members in the judicial commission in the event his petition was accepted. Expressing dismay at such allegations being levelled against a former judge of the apex court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for UP, said, “The allegation is that a former judge of this court is connected to the Government (of Uttar Pradesh). This is highly derogatory.”