The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the pleas seeking removal of former Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh 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 statements given by Gupta to the media for seeking his removal, to cast aspersions on the member of inquiry commission.
The commission will also probe the killing of eight policemen allegedly by Dubey's gang and the subsequent encounter of the gangster and five of his purported associates by the cops.
"We are satisfied that these statements (given by Gupta) were made by him as an ordinary citizen. In our view, it cannot be assumed that Gupta has made up his mind one way or the other. We, therefore, see no merits in the instant applications which are accordingly, dismissed,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
The top court was hearing two applications filed by advocates Ghanshyam Upadhyay and Anoop Prakash Awasthi seeking removal of Gupta from the commission.
Besides Gupta, one of the two applications had also sought removal of former high court judge Justice (retd) Shashi Kant Agarwal as an member of the inquiry commission.
“We are satisfied that the objection arises because of an incomplete reading and understanding of K L Gupta's statement, who is a former DGP, Uttar Pradesh, made to the media,” the bench said in its order.
“It is very clear that Gupta has in the same interview stated that ‘we should not be judgmental. This is not the end but a start',” the bench said.
One of the petitioners alleged in the apex court that statements given by Gupta reflected his bias as it suggested that he was giving a clean chit to the police for encounter.
“Why are you casting aspersions on him? Don't do this. We will not allow you to do this,” the bench said, while observing that Gupta's statement was balanced and the petitioners should look into the whole statement.
The bench, after perusing the media reports pertaining to interviews by Gupta, said the inquiry would not be vitiated as former judges of the apex court and the high court are part 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 on Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, said there should not be any controversy on the issue as Gupta had only said that there should be inquiry into the incident.
Mehta said the statements should be read out in full context and not selectively.
The bench observed that Gupta had also made it clear in his statements that if any policemen will be found guilty after inquiry, then they will be punished.
The top court said it cannot entertain these applications based on the apprehension of the petitioners and change the member of the commission.
The bench 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.
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 3-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 its affidavit filed in the apex court, 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.