New SIT to probe ’84 riots cases: SC

The Supreme Court decided to set up a new special investigation team headed by a retired high court judge to probe 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases after it found that the existing SIT, set up by the NDA government in 2015, had not done its job properly.

On August 16 last year, the SC had set up a supervisory body of two former apex court judges — S Radhakrishnan and J M Panchal — and asked it to “scrutinise 241 matters which have been closed and express their view whether there was justification to close the cases”.

The two judges analysed the investigations carried out in the cases by the NDA-appointed special investigation team and reported to a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud that as many as 186 cases were not investigated further as mandated by the government three years ago.

“Regard being had to the nature of the case, we think it appropriate that a fresh SIT should be constituted for carrying on further investigation,” the CJI-led bench said and posted the matter to Thursday for passing of necessary orders.

It asked additional solicitor general Pinky Anand and petitioner S Gurlad Singh’s counsel, H S Phoolka and Amardip Singh Bedi, to submit three names to the court on Thursday — a retired HC judge, a Delhi-based serving IPS officer and a retired IPS officer not below the rank of inspector general — for consideration for the special investigation team .

The court had entertained Gurlad Singh’s petition on November 15, 2016, and had in January last year sought a comprehensive report from the government on the steps taken by the SIT.

In December last year, the bench had said, “It is an extremely important matter as we have to determine whether the SIT’s decision to close the cases was appropriate or not. The supervisory committee had earlier opined that the cases may have been time barred for launching of fresh prosecution. Let us see if there is any substance in the facts mentioned in the case files. If we find substance, we will order prosecution.”

The petitions filed by Singh and Manjit Singh GK had alleged that the SIT had scrutinised 293 cases and closed 199 of them after scrutiny.

It was also alleged that another 42 cases were closed after conducting preliminary inquiry. The main impediment before the SIT was tracing witnesses willing to depose in these cases after a lapse of 35 years.

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