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The Supreme Court Friday appointed Justice H.S. Bedi to head a monitoring committee to supervise investigations into 22 cases of alleged fake encounters in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006.

Justice Bedi is a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

The apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai appointed Justice Bedi after rejecting the Gujarat government’s plea for more time to persuade Justice M.B. Shah to reconsider his decision to step down as chairman of the monitoring authority. Justice Shah is also a former judge of the Supreme Court.

Appointing Justice Bedi as the head of the monitoring authority, the apex court said: “As far as the supervision and monitoring of the cases mentioned in two writ petitions is concerned, we would like it to be done by someone whose neutrality is completely beyond any question.”

Asking the Gujarat government to extend full facilities and cooperation to Justice Bedi, the court requested him to submit an interim report to the apex court in three months.

The court order appointing Justice Bedi as the chairman of the monitoring committee came in the wake of the hearing of a petition by well-known columnist B.G.Verghese and noted poet, lyricist and Bollywood film script writer Javed Akhtar seeking CBI investigation into the cases of fake encounters in Gujarat, in which 22 people were killed between 2002 and 2006.

The court said: “We do not think it would be proper to burden him (Justice Shah) with an assignment which he is not interested in shouldering.”

The court said this when Gujarat’s Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta said he along with the Advocate General of the state had met Justice Shah and were in the process of persuading him to recall his letter to the apex court relinquishing his appointment as the head of the monitoring committee.

The apex court by its Jan 25 order stamped the Gujarat government decision to set up a monitoring authority headed by Justice Shah to supervise the investigations into 22 cases of staged shootouts.

The court said it had nothing to say on the Gujarat government’s decision to appoint Justice (retd.) K.R. Vyas to head the monitoring authority after Justice M.B. Shah (former judge of the apex court) declined the state government’s offer of the post.

The court said it was not proper for the State government to appoint Justice (retd) Vyas to head the monitoring committee just a day before the matter was to be heard by the apex court.



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