Almost 34 years after the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Supreme Court today decided to set up a new three-member special investigation team to monitor the re-investigation into 186 cases which were closed earlier.
The top court held that the previous Special Investigation Team (SIT) had not carried out further probe into these 186 cases in which closure reports were filed, and directed that the fresh SIT would comprise of a former High Court judge and two police officers.
Large-scale riots had broken out in the national capital in the aftermath of the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two Sikh security guards on the morning of October 31, 1984. The violence had claimed 2,733 lives in Delhi alone.
The apex court, which asked the Centre to suggest three names for the SIT today itself, later conceded to the submission of the Ministry of Home Affairs to grant some more time and directed it to give the names tomorrow.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said "we have perused the report of the Supervisory Committee. On a perusal of the same, we find that the SIT has not done further investigation in respect of 186 cases," the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
It said that with regard to the nature of cases, "it would be appropriate that a fresh SIT should be constituted for carrying on the further investigation".
The bench clarified that names to be suggested by Centre and persons representing riot victims for a fresh SIT should comprise of a former Judge of the high court, a former IPS officer not below the rank of Inspector General or an equivalent post and a serving police officer of IPS status available in Delhi.
The supervisory body, which had submitted its final report, had comprised former apex court judges Justice J M Panchal and Justice K S P Radhakrishnan.
On August 16 last year, the apex court had appointed the supervisory panel to examine the SIT's decision to close 241 cases in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots matter and had asked it to submit the report in three months.
The Centre had said that out of 250 riots cases which were probed by the SIT, closure reports were filed in 241.
It had said that nine cases were still being investigated by the SIT, while two were being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The apex court had on March 24, 2017, asked the Centre to place before it the files pertaining to the 199 anti-Sikh riots cases which the SIT set up earlier by the Home Ministry had decided to close.
The 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 earlier told the bench that a total of 293 riot-related cases were taken up for scrutiny by the earlier SIT which had decided to close 199 of them after scrutiny.
Kahlon, a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, had sought the court's direction for setting up another SIT to ensure speedy justice to the riot victims.
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