Day 1 Arguments: 12th December 2018
The Supreme Court is assessing whether the deaths of 22 civilians between 2002 and 2006 were extra-judicial killings facilitated by Gujarat police officials.
The State of Gujarat was ordered to submit its response to the 11th and final report submitted by the HS Bedi Monitoring Committee prior to today’s hearing. The Monitoring Committee was monitoring the probe into the alleged 'fake encounters'.
Today, the Court entertained the question of whether the Chairman of the Committee submitted the final report without consulting the other members of the Committee. Ret’d Justice HS Bedi is the Chairman of the Committee.
CJI Gogoi began the hearing by stating that the report submitted to the Court is that of the Monitoring Committee and “not of Justice Bedi alone”. He stated that, hence, it is unclear whether the Court may hand over the report to the litigants.
Prashant Bhushan, counsel for the petitioners, argued that the reports of the Committee are the Chairman’s reports. He referred to the order appoint Justice Bedi as the Chairman of the Committee. He submitted the order specifies that the report is Justice HS Bedi's.
Further, Bhushan read out the Court’s order date 26/06/13, which states that Justice Bedi submitted 5 status reports.
On the other hand, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the reports are the Committee's report. ASG Mehta emphasised that all reports submitted by Justice Bedi rely on extensive deliberations by the Committee.
CJI Gogoi asked Mehta how he knows that the reports are the Committee’s reports and not the Chairman’s reports. Mehta responded by reading excerpts from the addditional affidavit filed by him on behalf of the State.
CJI Gogoi asked Mehta to specify the purpose of the Monitoring Committee constituted by the Court. Mehta clarified that the Court was dissatisfied with the Police investigation. He stated that the Court formed an independent investigation team in order to satisfy public conscience. He submitted that the Court formed the Special Task Force (STF) and the Monitoring Committee, which oversaw the STF.
Order of the Supreme Court, delivered by CJI Gogoi:
"After submission of 10 interim reports, 11th final report has been submitted, dated 26/01/18. Objections have been raised by the State of Gujarat that the final report is a unitary action on the part of Justice Bedi, without taking into consideration the opinions of the other members of the Committee. On perusal of the reports, we are inclined to hear Justice Bedi on whether the final report was shared with any member of the Committee before it was submitted to the Court. Justice Bedi to respond at the earliest and the matter to be listed on reopening".