The Supreme Court has modified its January 11 order and accepted the Central government’s suggestion that the two members of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), supervising investigation into 186 cases of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots of Delhi, can continue with the probe.
The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday (December 3) that it may not be necessary to substitute Rajdeep Singh who had declined to be a part of a three-member SIT supervising further probe into 186 cases of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, citing personal reasons.
The other two other members – former Delhi High Court judge Justice SN Dhingra and serving IPS officer Abhishek Dular – will be continuing the probe in the cases.
The government, on Monday, had told a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that they have no objection if the other two members of the SIT continue with the work.
The bench said that, however, since the January 11 order constituting a three-member SIT was passed by a bench of three-judges, they cannot modify it while sitting in a combination of two judges.
The bench had posted the matter for hearing today.
The top court, on January 11, had constituted a three-member SIT headed by Justice (retired) Dhingra to supervise further probe into the 186 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.
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).
During the hearing on Monday, the ASG told the bench that they have suggested the name of former IPS officer Wasan to substitute Singh.
“You cannot choose your own judge. Give two-three names,” the bench told the ASG, who said that the apex court could appoint anybody to substitute Singh.
Senior advocates RS Suri and HS Phoolka, representing the petitioner, said appointing a third member in the SIT might delay the process and the other two members should continue with their work.
On August 16 last year, the Supreme 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 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 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.
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.