In what seems to be a major setback for Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court on Wednesday referred all cases of alleged fake encounters that took place in the state between 2003-2006 to its former judge MB Shah.
The court asked him to look into all instances of the alleged fake encounters mentioned in the two writ petitions which were filed by the veteran journalist B G Verghese and poet, lyricist Javed Akhtar.
The court further asked justice Shah to file a report within three months.
"We want the investigation to be thorough so that truth in each case is revealed," a bench comprising justices Aftab Alam and C K Prasad said while hearing the petitions relating to alleged fake encounters in Gujarat between 2002 to 2006 which purportedly showed a pattern that people from the minority community were targeted as terrorists.
The bench said it will be open for the monitoring authority headed by justice Shah to constitute an independent team either with officer from Gujarat Special Task Force (STF) or from outside.
It also said that the chairman of the monitoring authority, if so desires, could give hearing to petitioners in the case or kin of the victims of encounter deaths.
Verghese had sought an inquiry into 21 alleged fake encounter killings by the police in Gujarat during the period. While, Akhtar had sought a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into the alleged fake encounters in the state, claiming that innocent people, particularly from Muslim community, were being targeted as terrorists.
Some of the prominent encounter cases in the state include the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausarbi, Tulsiram Prajapati, Ishrat Jahan, Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana, Sameer Khan and Zeeshan Johar.