The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed two petitions which sought to remove K L Gupta, former Director-General of Police of Uttar Pradesh, from the SC-appointed inquiry commission to probe into the genuineness of the encounter killing of gangster Vikas Dubey.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde, did not accept the arguments of the petitioners that Gupta was biased and prejudiced in the matter.
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'".
However, the CJI-led 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?", CJI said.
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"
It was on July 22 that the SC constituted the committee and appointed former SC judge Justice B S Chauhan to lead it.
The names of the committee members were proposed by the Uttar Pradesh government. Justice Sashi Kant Agarwal, a former judge of the Allahabad High Court, is the third member of the commission, apart from Justice B S Chauhan and K L Gupta.
The statements of Gupta, which were highlighted by the petitioners, were made soon after the incident when the media sought his response to the encounter.
"On face value, we should accept what police are saying. Why do we always start with negativity and dub police wrong? Encounters are not done, they happen.", Gupta had reportedly told PTI on July 10.
As per PTI, he said that Dubey was facing over 60 cases against him. "He knew the law and also how to abuse it...why he was out of jail for years? His stay out of jail would have meant that he would commit more crime."
When asked as to what he felt about the nature of the encounter after watching the visuals from the spot, Gupta said, "Accidents are not abnormal. They do happen. He was being brought from Ujjan and the driver might be tired. In this (rainy) season, such mishaps do happen."
"We should not be judgemental. This is not the end but a start," he said.
"There is the NHRC (National Human Rights Commission). Magisterial probe of encounters are done. Magistrates are not under police. If there is something wrong, the magistrate can order an FIR. Policemen have gone to jail in the past in fake encounter cases," the former DGP said.
Responding to media persons' doubts over the genuineness of the police claims, Gupta reportedly said :
"First see if you did anything for the eight policemen who were killed. Did you go to their homes and see if their families were starving? Did you find out from where Dubey got so many weapons? Had he created an ordnance factory in his home? No. You didn't."
You are beginning with doubt. His vehicle was switched to obtain the element of surprise. SUVs, on national highways, overturn all the time. He'd gone to surrender thinking he'd be in judicial custody. But there was no need for remand as the police there had no case. So it's natural that he'd run if he thought 'I might get killed' if the police take me into custody. He must have attempted to flee the moment the vehicle overturned."
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