SC sets up fresh Justice Dhingra-led SIT to probe '84 anti-sikh riots

The Supreme Court on Thursday set up a three-member special investigation team (SIT) headed by former Delhi High Court judge Justice S N Dhingra to supervise a further probe into 186 cases from the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Besides Justice Dhingra, serving Indian Police Service PS officer Abhishek Dular and retired Police Inspector General Rajdeep Singh would comprise the SIT, which has been asked by a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra to submit its status report in two months.

The matter will be heard next on 19 March.

Justice Dhingra, as a sessions Judge in Karkardooma court in Delhi, had conducted the trial of anti-Sikh riots cases, including one involving Congress leader H K L Bhagat.

The apex court had on Wednesday held that the previous SIT had not carried out a further probe into these 186 cases in which closure reports were filed, and directed setting up of a fresh SIT comprising 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 31 October, 1984. The violence had claimed 2,733 lives in Delhi alone.

The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said on Thursday, "We have perused the report of the Supervisory Committee. On perusal of the same, we find that the SIT has not done further investigation in respect of 186 cases."

It had 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 earlier 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 16 August 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.

Earlier this month, the SC took on record the final report submitted by a supervisory body appointed by it to look into the closure of 241 riot cases from 1984.

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 nine cases were still being investigated by the SIT and two being probed by the CBI.

The apex court had on 24 March, 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.