Chief Justice S.A. Bobde on Tuesday asked a petitioner, who expressed apprehensions about the Vikas Dubey encounter probe panel’s chief, Justice B.S. Chauhan (retd), as he has relatives in the BJP, if belonging to a political party is an illegal act.
The bench, headed by the Chief Justice and also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, said there are judges who have relatives in the Parliament.
“Are they not fair? There are judges whose father is an MP. They are not fair judges? Is belonging to a political party an illegal act?” the Chief Justice asked the petitioner, advocate Ghanshyam Upadhyay.
As the lawyer cited several articles and raised doubts on the fairness of the committee headed by Justice Chauhan, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, submitted that the plea’s content has derogatory material.
Mehta argued the petitioner was implying that a former judge of the Supreme Court is connected to the government. “This is what he is saying! Being public spirited is one thing and levelling such aspersions is another. This is derogatory. Highly derogatory!” he added.
The bench replied: “We will not cast aspersions on a former judge of this court on the basis of a newspaper report.”
Upadhyay claimed that Uttar Pradesh was fast becoming a state of encounters and there was an encounter of Rakesh Pandey a few days ago. To this, the bench replied that the lawyer was citing irrelevant material, as thousands of crimes would happen in a state. “How it is connected with the issue in contention?” it asked, but asked the lawyer to give suggestions in writing and reserved the order.
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, and asked it 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,” said the bench.
The other two members of the commission are Allahabad High Court’s former judge, Justice Shashi Kant Agarwal and former Director General of Police K.L. Gupta.