In its 221-page final report, Justice Bedi said 15 of the 18 encounters appeared genuine and no action was required with regard to those. The monitoring authority found the encounters in the three remaining cases to be fake and recommended prosecution of nine police officers on murder charges.
The finding comes as a respite to the BJP leadership, which has been dogged by allegations of “fake encounters” during Modi’s chief ministership.
However, in what could ensure the controversy keeps simmering, Justice Bedi’s report referred to a 2007 sting operation carried out by Tehelka relating to Sameer Khan’s killing in an encounter in 2002 and subsequent affidavits naming “some very senior functionaries of the state government, both political as well as administrative”.
“The persons so named are not before me in any proceedings in the light of the fact that my mandate is a limited one and is confined to the determination as to whether the 18 encounters, which have been referred to the monitoring authority and the special task force were stage-managed custodial killings or genuine encounters. In this view of the matter, I am not called upon to comment on all the allegations levelled by Sarfaraz Khan or on all the answers made by Tirth Raj (in the sting operation),” Justice Bedi said.
However, terming Sameer Khan’s killing in Ahmedabad to be a fake one, the monitoring authority recommended prosecution of inspectors KM Vaghela and TA Barot on murder charges.
There were two other cases in which Justice Bedi found the encounters to be fake. It found that Kasim Jaffer was killed on April 13, 2006, in a fake encounter. The former SC judge recommended prosecution of sub-inspector JM Bharwad and constable Ganeshbhai on murder charges. Justice Bedi also ordered payment of Rs 14 lakh compensation to Mariam Jaffer, widow of the deceased, and their five children.
The third fake encounter related to the killing of Haji Ismail on October 9, 2005, at a place under Umargram police station in Valsad district. The monitoring authority recommended prosecution of five police officers – inspector KG Erda, sub-inspectors LB Monpara, JM Yadav, SK Shah and Parag P Vyas, who shot and fatally injured Ismail – on murder charges.
The vehemence with which Gujarat government counsel Rajat Nair and senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who appeared for the purported accused, had opposed the suggestion from a SC bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi to share Justice Bedi’s report with Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for petitioners Javed Akhtar and BG Verghese, gave the impression that they were apprehensive of “bigwigs” of Gujarat politics getting named by the monitoring authority. The SC had rejected the objection and given a copy to Bhushan.
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