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“Higher-ups connived in encounters”

Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Police officers such as D.G. Vanzara resorted to encounter killings of members of a particular community in Gujarat between 2002 and 2005 and this could not have happened without the connivance of the Home Minister and the higher-ups, senior counsel Dushyant Dave told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

He is appearing for Rubabuddin Sheikh, who demands that the killing of his brother, Sohrabuddin, in a fake encounter be referred to the court-appointed Special Investigation Team.

Mr. Dave made a passing reference to the encounter killing of the teenaged girl Ishrat Jehan and three others, and the report of Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate S.P. Tamang on the incident. The Gujarat High Court did not question the State administration why such encounter deaths were taking place, he said.

In a voice choked with emotion, Mr. Dave said the situation in Gujarat was such that no lawyer was coming forward to seek bail for members of a particular community. He alleged that the judiciary had also become pliable. This remark was strongly objected to by the Gujarat Advocate-General, who assisted senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the State.

Mr. Dave said he had initially agreed to the probe by the investigating officer in the Sohrabuddin case, Geeta Johri, a senior IPS officer, but she betrayed the trust reposed in her by the Supreme Court.

Counsel will continue submissions on September 16.

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