Six years after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) moved a petition seeking transfer of post-Godhra riots cases outside Gujarat, the Supreme Court on Tuesday in principle agreed to constitute a five-member special investigating team (SIT) to probe further into over a dozen cases.
The SIT shall be asked to probe deeper into 14 major cases arising out of 10 incidents during the 2002 riots. The trial in all 14 cases was stayed following the Supreme Court order. These include the Gulbarg Society massacre in which around 70 people were killed including former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffrey. The killings in Naroda Pattiya and Sardarpur and the Godhra train burning which sparked the riots, will also be probed further under the criminal procedure code.
A bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat said the SIT would submit its report within three months to the magistrate before whom the cases are pending. A report shall also be given to the Supreme Court. The three-judge bench said: “What we propose is to constitute a special team of five members including three IPS officers from Gujarat. The other two members will be retired IPS officers. One shall be former CBI director, R K Raghavan and the other, a former UP police officer, C D Sathpathy.”
The three Gujarat police officers include IPS officer Geeta Johari who probed the Soharabuddin fake encounter case. The court will pass a formal order on Wednesday after seeking a response from contesting parties.
Though the Gujarat Government agreed to the constitution of an SIT, it opposed inclusion of outsiders. Gujarat government senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi suggested names of Johari and IPS officers Sivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia and said the team would supervise the investigation conducted by junior officers.