A three-judge Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur modified its January 11 order that talked of a three-member SIT to supervise investigations into 1984 anti-Sikh riots in view of refusal of retired IPS officer Rajdeep Singh on the panel for personal reasons.
The two-member SIT consists of former Delhi High Court judge Justice SN Dhingra and serving IPS officer Abhishek Dular. The SIT was to submit its first report in August.
Almost 3,000 people were killed, most of them in Delhi, in the anti-Sikh riots that broke out following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.
Justice Dhingra—who heads the SIT—was a trial judge when punishments were handed out in 1990s to the accused of the Trilokpuri massacre of 1984. Kishori Lal, dubbed as the ‘butcher of Trilokpuri’, was among those sentenced by him.
On Monday, the court was told that it may not be necessary to find Singh’s substitute and the SIT can start probe with just two members.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand had told a two-judge Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur that the government had no objection if Justice Dhingra and Dular continued with their work without waiting for appointment of the third SIT member.
"Let us have the two-member SIT and they should proceed,” the ASG told the Bench which also included Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Hemant Gupta.
Since the January 11 order setting up a three-member SIT was passed by a three-judge Bench, the two-judge Bench couldn’t modify it on Monday.
The top court is seized of a petition by S Gurlad Singh Kahlon—a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee—seeking further probe into anti-Sikh riot cases in the national capital.
After coming to power in 2014, the Narendra Modi Government had set up an SIT headed by Pramod Asthana, an IPS officer of 1986 batch to re-investigation of the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases. Rakesh Kapoor, a retired district and sessions judge and Kumar Gyanesh, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, Delhi Police were the other two members.
The top court had in January noted that the previous SIT headed by Asthana had not carried out further probe into these 186 cases in which closure reports were filed. It had taken the decision after perusing the report of a two-judge supervisory panel comprising Justice JM Panchal and Justice KSP Radhakrishnan which scrutinized 241 cases relating to 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi closed by an earlier SIT formed by the NDA government for re-investigation.
After perusing the supervisory panel’s report submitted on December 6 last year, the top court had made it clear that it would not reopen cases in which accused had been acquitted. So far charge sheets have been only in very small number of cases taken up for further probe by the SIT.