The Supreme Court on Friday questioned the Narendra Modi government's unilateral decision to appoint former Bombay High Court chief justice Ksh*tij R Vyas as chief of the committee monitoring the Special Task Force's probe into several encounter killings in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006.
Within a week of Justice M B Shah, a retired Supreme Court judge, expressing inability to continue as head of the committee, the state on Thursday appointed Justice Vyas in his place.
A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana P Desai questioned the Modi government's decision to appoint Justice Vyas without consulting the apex court, where a PIL by prominent citizens B G Verghese and Javed Akhtar has been pending since 2007 seeking independent probe into the "extra-judicial" killings.
"We should also have been told about the proposal for the appointment of new chairman," the bench said when senior advocate Ranjit Kumar and Gujarat's additional advocate general Tushar Mehta said that the notification for appointment of Justice Vyas, a former chairman of Maharashtra Human Rights Commission, was issued on Thursday.
Mehta said the new chairman was appointed because, as per the apex court's January 25 order, the committee had to file its interim report within three months, which was ending on April 24. The bench, however, said the appointment should have been made by consulting the court as it had passed the earlier order. Moreover, since the matter was coming up for hearing on Friday, why could the government not wait for a day, the bench asked.
"You have unnecessarily complicated the matter (by making the unilateral appointment). You should have come to us. You should have waited. You should have brought it to our notice," it said.
The Gujarat government had appointed Justice Shah in April last year as head of the committee to monitor investigations into the encounter killings after it was alleged that the encounters showed a pattern that people from the minority community were being targeted as terrorists.
|SOURCE: The Times of India|