Supreme Court forms fresh SIT to re-investigate 186 anti-Sikh riot cases

A bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked the Centre to propose names for consideration within a few hours in order to hasten their appointment in the new SIT.

Supreme Court forms fresh SIT to re-investigate 186 anti-Sikh riot cases

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to constitute a new three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to monitor a re-investigation in the 186 anti-Sikh riot cases that followed the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked the Centre to propose names for consideration within a few hours in order to hasten their appointment in the new SIT.

The new committee will include one retired high court judge, one retired police officer not below the rank of a DIG at the time of his retirement and one serving police officer, the bench that also comprised of Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said.

A supervisory body – comprising of retired apex court judges Justice JM Panchal and Justice KSP Radhakrishnan -- assisting the court in this matter informed the top court that these 186 cases of the total 241 cases were closed earlier and will now be reopened. The affidavit was submitted before the bench in a secure leather box that could be opened once the correct code was added in the number-lock system.

Last August, the top court appointed a supervisory committee to verify the decision taken by the SIT in closing at least 241 cases relating to the anti-Sikh riots that took place over three decades ago.

The order was passed in relation to a petition filed by S Gurlad Singh Kahlon, a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), who had sought the apex court's directions in setting up of the SIT to ensure speedy justice to victims of the communal riots.

Earlier in March, on the heels of a petition filed by S Gurlad Singh Kahlon, the top court had asked the MHA constituted SIT to submit all the files pertaining to the reinvestigation of the 199 cases pertaining to communal riots. Later, 42 more cases were closed.

A total of 3,325 people were killed in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and other states in the riots after Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. Delhi alone accounted for 2,733 deaths.

The 1984 anti-Sikh riots are considered to be one of the most violent cases of communal hatred after the partition in 1947. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its 2011 World Report stated, "The government has yet to prosecute those responsible for the mass killings of Sikhs that followed the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Delivery of justice for mass violence against Muslims in Mumbai in 1992-93 and in Gujarat in 2002 has been slow."

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