Anoop Prakash Awasthi filed an application in the Supreme Court on July 24 seeking the reconstitution of the Commission of Inquiry set up under the chairmanship of the former Supreme Court judge, Justice B.S. Chauhan, to probe the circumstances leading to the gunning down of eight police officers on July 2 and the subsequent encounter deaths of their alleged assailants Vikas Dubey and his associates.
Petitioner has told the Supreme Court that the judicial inquiry commission constituted by Yogi Adityanath led government is “illegal” and that the members of the Special Investigating Team (SIT) were facing fake encounter charges. Awasthi’s affidavit came in response to the reply filed by the Uttar Pradesh police which had stated that Vikas Dubey had never surrendered but was nabbed after a tip-off from the Madhya Pradesh Police.
The petitioner contends that the judicial inquiry commission constituted by the UP Government in the matter was illegal as it was not in accordance with Section 3 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, which mandates passing of a resolution by each house of the State followed by a gazette notification. The petitioner further states that even if the houses cannot assemble due to COVID-19. The Governor of the State was empowered to issue an ordinance under Article 213 of the Constitution. However, in this case, neither of the two conditions were fulfilled. Thus, the action of the State government contravenes the Supreme Court verdict in V. Sudeier v. Bar Council of India (1999), the petitioner states. Awasthi further said that Justice Shashi Kant Agarwal, who has been referred to as a retired judge of the Allahabad High Court selected to head the inquiry commission, is not “retired” as he had “resigned from the position of Judge of High Court of Allahabad upon his transfer from said court to the High Court of Jharkhand on January 5, 2005, under controversial circumstances.” The petitioner also states that one of the members of the SIT namely J Ravinder Gaur (IPS) Deputy Inspector General of Police is “accused of a fake encounter of one Mukul Gupta a medicine dealer on 30th June 2007, who was killed in Bareli.” Two days after the court approved the Uttar Pradesh government’s choice of the expanded Commission, advocate Ghanshyam Upadhyay sought an urgent hearing to argue his case for the “disqualification” of the two members — retired DGP K.L. Gupta and former Allahabad High Court judge Shashikant Agrawal — from the Commission. Mr. Upadhyay also sought the removal of the case’s Special Investigation Team member Ravinder Gaur, a former DGP, as the latter is “likely to be biased”. “It is axiomatic and beyond any doubt whatsoever that Shri K.L. Gupta is having preconceived/predetermined notions and has prejudices and hatred against the accused and undue sympathy towards policemen who died and their families”, it stated. Primary among the tasks cut out for the Justice Chauhan Commission of Inquiry (CoI) is to find the truth about how Dubey was released from jail, who all in the State officialdom is responsible for his release and whether the State did anything at all to cancel his bail/parole. The Commission has to also inquire into any “collusion” between the police or any State department with Dubey and suggest steps to prevent its recurrence in the future. On June 22, the court directed the Commission to begin work in a week and submit a report in two months from the date of commencement of its functioning. The State would also place a copy of the CoI report in the Legislative Assembly as per the law.