On Tuesday, the Supreme Court has dismissed two petitions which sought the removal of K L Gupta, the former Director-General of Uttar Pradesh Police, from the SC-appointed inquiry commission to probe into the genuineness of the encounter killing of gangster Vikas Dubey.
While rejecting the arguments of the petitioners, who contended that Gupta was biased and prejudiced in the matter, a three-judge bench comprising of Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice V. Ramasubramanian asserted that there is a retired Supreme Court judge and High Court judge on the panel besides Gupta.
“Why are you worried? Why are you casting aspersions on them? Do not do this” the Chief Justice told advocate Ghanshyam Upadhyay, one of the petitioners who moved the court seeking a court-monitored probe into the encounter of Dubey and his aides, and also sought reconstitution of the probe panel.
The petitioners – Ghansham Upadhyaya and Anoop Prakash Awasthi alleged that Gupta had given statements to the press endorsing the police version of the encounter and had said ‘police version of the encounter should be accepted on face value’. While citing news reports, Upadhyay contended that Gupta has already given a clean chit to the officers involved in the encounter.
However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the UP government argued that Gupta had said let the inquiry happen, as a petition is there and the court will decide the matter. On the other hand, the apex court bench refused to treat this as an indication of bias, saying that Gupta’s integrity cannot be questioned by looking at one part of his statement.
“We cannot change the person appointed. He has given a balanced view. You are looking at only one part of it. Not the other part of it. We will not allow you to cast aspersions on someone’s integrity on this. How can you call a man corrupt by a statement that simply says rule of law should be followed?”, stated Chief Justice S A Bobde.
When the petitioners argued that the relevant test was not the actual existence of bias, but a reasonable likelihood of bias, the CJI replied “A right-minded person who reads the whole thing will not think that the person who said this is biased.”
On July 22, the apex court accepted the appointment of a three-member inquiry commission headed by former top court judge Justice B.S. Chauhan into the encounter killing of gangster Vikas Dubey, and asked the commission to submit its report within two months to the court and the Uttar Pradesh government.
“We direct that the notification constituting the Commission and incorporating the Terms of Reference as approved by us shall be issued immediately. The Commission shall sit at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, and start functioning within a period of one week from today,” stated the bench.