The members of the SIT are former district judge Rakesh Kapoor and additional DCP Kumar Gyanesh.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed a supervisory panel comprising two retired judges of the apex court to examine and scrutinise the SIT’s decision to close 241 cases related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
A three-judge bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Amitav Roy and A.M. Kanwilkar passed this order on petitions seeking a thorough probe and filing of chargesheets in the anti-Sikh riot cases. The bench said the two-judge panel would see whether there was any justification in the SIT’s decision to close the cases for want of evidence and to recommend reopening of cases if the decision to close the cases was wrong. The bench said it would notify the names of the two retired judges after getting their consent, and said the panel will submit its report in three months.
The Narendra Modi government at the Centre had set up a committee headed by G.P. Mathur on December 23, 2014 to examine the anti-Sikh riot cases pending since 1984. The panel had on January 22, 2015 recommended the setting up of an SIT. The government had formed the Special Investigation Team on February 12, 2015 with IPS officer Pramod Asthana as chairman. The members of the SIT are former district judge Rakesh Kapoor and additional DCP Kumar Gyanesh.
On March 24, the court asked the Centre to put before it the files pertaining to 199 anti-Sikh riot cases which the SIT decided to “close”. The anti-Sikh riots that broke out after the October 31, 1984 assassination of then PM Indira Gandhi had claimed 2,733 lives in Delhi alone.
During the resumed hearing Wednesday, senior counsel Arvind P. Datar and Phulka submitted that so far chargesheets had been filed in only four cases and there was an inordinate delay in the probe. Further, a total of 241 out of 293 cases had been closed by the SIT without any justification.
Additional solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the SIT and the CBI, told the court that out of 293 cases, 241 had been closed, chargesheets were filed in 12 cases, five were under investigation by the SIT and two by the CBI. He said he would take instructions in respect of the remaining 33 cases. Taking note of the submissions, the bench set up the two-judge panel and posted the matter for further hearing on November 28 after the submission of the panel’s report. In respect of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, where 126 Sikh deaths had taken place in 1984 and no probe was conducted, the bench said the matter would be taken up on September 22.
Responding to the petitioners’ allegation of “inordinate delay” in the probe, the Centre said the 32-year delay was taking a toll on the gathering of relevant documents and case files from police stations and courts. In many cases, the documents were in Urdu or Gurmukhi and this was further delaying their scrutiny, it said. “The cases being very old, there has been difficulty in collating and scrutinising records,” it said.