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SC prises open mass riot case morgue

New Delhi, Aug. 17: The Supreme Court today ordered a review of all 4,200-odd Gujarat riot cases, including 2,000 declared “closed”.

A 10-member committee, headed by the director-general of Gujarat police, has been directed to go into the riot cases and decide if further investigation is required. The DGP will file a quarterly report on the progress of the cases.

By appointing a committee that includes two additional directors-general and seven range inspectors-general, who exercise “supervisory jurisdiction” over all the state’s 30 police districts, the court virtually brought the entire state under its jurisdiction so that no case escapes trial.

Police said 2,000 cases have been closed because they could not trace or pinpoint the culprits in a riot situation. Even on the remaining cases, no details are available.

A three-judge bench of Justices Ruma Pal, S.B. Sinha and S.H. Kapadia ordered that in cases where only FIRs were filed, they should be taken to their next legal or logical step and the status reported.

The panel will have to examine all the 4,200-odd cases to decide which of the 2,000 cases to reopen and assess the status after FIR stage in others.

“The range IGs shall look into the FIR file, the reports submitted on the FIR and decide on each of such cases whether fresh investigation is required,” the court said. They will hand the report to the additional DGPs, who will scrutinise it before sending it up. The final decision will rest with the DGP.

If the committee decides further investigation is needed, it shall be conducted by a police officer not part of the earlier team that recommended closure, the court said.

On the other hand, if the committee concludes that no further probe is required, the reasons should be recorded and posted on the Internet.

NGOs will be allowed to point out cases where further probe is necessary.

When counsel for the accused, K.T.S. Tulsi, opposed the order, the bench said: “What happened in the state was an unprecedented and abnormal situation because of the state’s response to the riot cases.”

On compensation to victims, the bench said Gujarat High Court would look into grievances.

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