Vikas Dubey encounter: SC dismisses pleas seeking removal of members of inquiry commission
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed pleas seeking removal of former high court judge justice (retd) Shashi Kant Agarwal and retired Uttar Pradesh director general of police (DGP) K.L. Gupta from the 3-member inquiry commission set up to probe the killing of gangster Vikas Dubey in police encounter.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said it would not allow the petitioners, who had referred to media interviews by Gupta for seeking his removal, to cast aspersions on the inquiry commission.
The panel will also probe the killing of eight policemen allegedly by the Dubey gang and the subsequent encounter of the gangster and five of his purported associates.
The bench, also comprising justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, perused the media reports pertaining to interviews by Gupta and said the inquiry would not be vitiated as there are former judges of the apex court and the high court as part of the commission.
The top court was hearing two applications filed by petitioners Ghanshyam Upadhyay and Anoop Prakash Awasthi seeking removal of members of the commission.
The apex court had on July 22 approved the Uttar Pradesh government's draft notification for appointing former top court judge Justice (retd) B S Chauhan as the chairman of the three-member inquiry commission.
Eight policemen, including DSP Devendra Mishra, who were ambushed in Bikru village in Chaubeypur area of Kanpur when they were going to arrest Dubey and fell to bullets fired from rooftops shortly after midnight on July 3.
Dubey was killed in an encounter in the morning of July 10 when a police vehicle carrying him from Ujjain to Kanpur met with an accident and he tried to escape from the spot in Bhauti area, the police had said.
Prior to Dubey's encounter, five of his alleged associated were killed in separate encounters.
During the hearing, Upadhyay referred to media statements given by Gupta and claimed that it reflected his bias regarding the encounter.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, argued that Gupta had said that there will be an inquiry into the incident.
Mehta said there should be no controversy on this.
The bench, while perusing the media reports, observed that it cannot change a member of the commission like this because of the apprehension of the petitioner.
The bench said that Gupta had also made it clear in his statements that if any policemen will be found guilty, then they will be taken into task.
Why are you casting aspersions on them? Don't do this. We will not allow you to do this, the bench said.
The top court said that even in a trial, the charge sheet is accepted and accepting it does not mean that contents of the probe report has been believed by the court.
Awasthi told the bench that he has also filed an application seeking removal of Gupta from the commission.
On July 22, the apex court had directed that the inquiry commission should start functioning within a week and the probe be concluded within two months.
The apex court had passed the order last week while hearing a batch of petitions which have sought court-monitored probe into encounters of Dubey and five of his alleged associates.
Some of the pleas have also sought probe into the killing of eight policemen on July 3.
In an affidavit filed in the apex court earlier, the Uttar Pradesh government had said that it has constituted a three-member SIT, headed by UP additional chief secretary Sanjay Bhoosreddy on July 11, to look into the crimes committed by the dreaded gangster and the alleged collusion between Dubey, police and politicians.
Mehta had earlier informed the court that Dubey, who was facing 65 FIRs, was released on bail.
On June 20, the apex court had said that it is a failure of the institution that a person like Dubey got bail despite several cases lodged against him.
The Uttar Pradesh government, in an affidavit filed in the apex court in the matter, had said that the police party escorting Dubey from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh to Kanpur had to fire back in self-defence as he had tried to escape and was killed