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‘Unending’ riots probe irks SC

New Delhi, Feb. 18: The Supreme Court yesterday virtually expressed its exasperation over the manner in which the inquiries into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the 2002 post-Godhra riots remain an unending process with no conclusion in sight.

“You are unnecessarily raking up something that happened years ago. There will be no conclusion to the Gujarat riots and also to this one,” an apparently exasperated bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and Ibrahim Kalifullah observed.

The apex court passed the observation while directing Sunil Fernandez, counsel for S. Sudarshan Singh Wazir, the petitioner, to place on record the report of the Justice Nanavati Commission of Inquiry on the anti-Sikh riots. The commission had submitted its report to the government in February 2005.

The PIL by Singh had complained that though eight different commissions had gone through the circumstances leading to the riots, there have been no conclusive findings, nor any follow-up action from the government.

The bench granted two weeks to the petitioner to furnish a copy of the report to see if there can be any scope for the apex court’s intervention in the matter.

The petitioner, a social worker and former president of the Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Board of Jammu and Kashmir, has filed the PIL to seek the setting up of a fresh special investigation team (SIT) to probe the 1984 riots on the grounds that despite the eight commissions of inquiry, the guilty continues to be scot-free.

The petitioner’s case is that none of the commissions had given any conclusive findings.

“We can look into the matter only if we find that the commission had not acted in accordance with the terms of reference. You place the Nanavati Commission report within two weeks, we will look into it,” Justice Patnaik told the counsel for the petitioner.

According to the petition, about 8,000 Sikhs were massacred in 1984 following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The petitioner also wants special fast track courts to try the offenders on a day-to-day trial basis and bring them to book.