Modifying its earlier order, the Supreme Court Tuesday said the three-member SIT set up to supervise further probe into 186 cases of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots will now have two members only as one of those appointed has declined to be a part of it.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur passed the order as the Centre had earlier informed the court that one of three members appointed in the special investigation team (SIT), retired IPS officer Rajdeep Singh, had declined to be a part of the team on "personal grounds".
The other two members are -- former Delhi High Court judge Justice S N Dhingra and serving IPS officer Abhishek Dular.
The apex court had on January 11 this year constituted the SIT headed by Justice (retired) Dhingra and comprising Singh and Dular to supervise further probe into the 186 riots cases, in which closure reports had been filed earlier.
Large-scale riots had broken out in the national capital in the aftermath of the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh security guards on the morning of October 31, 1984. The violence had claimed 2,733 lives in Delhi alone.
The Centre and the counsel for the petitioner had Monday told the top court that it may not be necessary to substitute Singh and the other two members should be asked to continue with their work.
During the brief hearing on Tuesday, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for Centre, said, "Let us have the two member SIT and they should proceed".
"Counsel for the parties are in agreement that order of January 11 may be modified in view of the fact that Rajdeep Singh, retired IPS officer, had declined to be a member of the committee on personal grounds," the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta, said in its order.
"It is agreed by the parties that the committee should now consist of Justice (retd) S N Dhingra and IPS officer Abhishek Dular. Accordingly the order dated January 11 is modified," the bench said.
On February 5, the Centre had moved the court requesting it to include former DG-rank officer Navneet Rajan Wasan, who had earlier served as the Director General of Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), in the SIT to replace Singh.
Wasan, now retired, is a 1980-batch Andhra Pradesh cadre officer and had also served as Special Director General in the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The top court had appointed the three-member SIT after the Ministry of Home Affairs and counsel for petitioner S G S Kahlon arrived at a consensus with regard to the persons who could be appointed in the fresh SIT.
The court had said the previous SIT did not carry out further probe into the 186 cases in which closure reports were filed, and had directed setting up of a fresh SIT comprising a former high court judge and two police officers.
Justice Dhingra, who had retired from Delhi High Court, had dealt with several high-profile cases including the 2001 Parliament Attack case as a trial judge.
As the judge of the trial court, he had dealt with many of the 1984 riot cases, and his verdicts had resulted in conviction in 16 cases.
On August 16 last year, the apex court had appointed a supervisory panel to examine the earlier SIT's decision to close 241 cases.
The Centre had said that out of 250 riots cases which were probed by that SIT, closure reports were filed in 241. It had said some cases were still being investigated by the SIT, and two by the CBI.
The earlier SIT was headed by Pramod Asthana, an IPS officer of 1986 batch, and had Rakesh Kapoor, a retired district and sessions judge, and Kumar Gyanesh, an additional deputy commissioner of Delhi Police, as its members.
Petitioner S Gurlad Singh Kahlon had told the court that a total of 293 riot-related cases were taken up for scrutiny by the earlier SIT which later decided to close 199 of them.
Kahlon, a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, had sought the top court's direction for setting up another SIT to ensure speedy justice to the riot victims.