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Need to Check If Effort Was Made to Find Evidence in Anti-Sikh Riot Cases, Says Justice Dhingra

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 October 31, 1984.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:January 11, 2018, 8:21 PM IST
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Need to Check If Effort Was Made to Find Evidence in Anti-Sikh Riot Cases, Says Justice Dhingra
A file image of the Supreme Court of India.
New Delhi: Justice SN Dhingra who has been appointed by the Supreme Court to head the fresh SIT probe in the 186 anti-Sikh riot cases told News18 that it needs to be seen "whether the effort was made by the earlier SIT panel to find evidence."

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

Besides Justice Dhingra, serving IPS officer Abhishek Dular and retired IG rank officer Rajdeep Singh would be part of the SIT, which has been asked by a Bench headed by the Chief Justice Dipak Misra to submit its status report in two months.

Speaking to News18, Justice Dhingra said that cases are only closed when sufficient evidence is not found to support the case and that's what the probe would look into now.

"Generally cases are closed when sufficient evidence is not there or was not found. Now, I have to go through all the files individually to see what the report of the earlier SIT was. It has to be seen now whether the effort was made or evidence was actually not there. This is what needs to be done," said the former Delhi High Court judge who had awarded death penalty to Afzal Guru.

The earlier supervisory body which probed these cases 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.

Their final report was examined by 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.

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.

However, Justice Dhingra said that he would now examine who all the witnesses were in each of the 186 cases to make sure "he does not commit the same thing again."

"Now the evidentiary process depends on case to case basis. I need to see what the case was, who the witnesses were and whether witnesses were there at all or not. I have to make sure I don't commit the same thing again or (it will) be disappointing. I will go through the earlier SIT problem report too," said Justice Dhingra.

Dhingra was the judge when punishments were handed out in the 1990s to the accused of the Trilokpuri massacre of 1984. Kishori Lal, dubbed as the ‘butcher of Trilokpuri’, was among those sentenced by Dhingra.

On January 10, an SC bench led by CJI Dipak Mishra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, held that the previous SIT had not carried out a further probe into these 186 cases in which closure reports were filed.

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 October 31, 1984. The violence had claimed 2,733 lives in Delhi alone.

Justice Dhingra has stated that he still awaits the copy of SC order to frame his procedure to be adopted for the probe. "I have not seen the SC order yet. I have to see now what the terms of reference are. It is only after that I can determine the procedure to be adopted by us," said Dhingra.

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.

The matter will be heard next on 19 March.
| Edited by: Tarun Bhardwaj
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