SC refuses to keep Justice Bedi’s Gujarat fake shootout’ report confidential

Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India, File Photo

New Delhi, Jan 9 : The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that a copy of the Justice H.S. Bedi committee report on eight cases of fake shootouts in Gujarat be furnished to the petitioner, noted lyricist Javed Akhtar, and refused to keep it confidential.

The court said a copy of the report is also to be given to the Gujarat government.

Besides Javed Akhtar, well-known columnist B.G.Verghese, now dead, had also moved the court seeking investigation into the cases of stage shootout.

“We are of the view that at this stage, copies of the final report should be furnished to the petitioners, as well as, the State of Gujarat. They are permitted to file their reply/response thereto. Thereafter, the question of acceptance or otherwise of the final report will be considered by this court”, it said in its order rejecting Gujarat government’s resistance to sharing report with the petitioners.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjay Krishan Kaul rejected the Gujarat government’s plea that the report be kept confidential and away from the media gaze.

Justice Bedi, in response to a query from the court in the course of the last hearing of the matter on December 12, 2018, said that in terms of the two orders of the top court in January and February 2012, he alone as the Chairman of the monitoring authority was to submit the report.

Justice Bedi told the court that first 10 reports were status reports on the investigation, but the final report of February 26, 2018, was by him as the head of the monitoring authority. However, he offered that he was open to any other suggestion by the court.

Accepting this response, Chief Justice Gogoi asked: “If Justice Bedi is authorised to give the report, which we think he is, how can a state object to it?”

At the last hearing, the Gujarat government had objected to the February 26, 2018, final report, saying Justice Bedi had submitted it without consulting the members of the monitoring authority.

Gujarat also opposed sharing of the final report with the petitioners, saying it would cause prejudice.

Both Verghese and Akhtar had moved the top court seeking a CBI investigation into the cases of fake encounter in Gujarat in which 22 people were killed between 2002 to 2006.

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