New Delhi, Apr 13 (PTI) The Supreme Court today allowed former top cop R K Raghavan, heading the apex-court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe 2002 Gujarat riots cases, to be relieved as the SIT Chief on health grounds. Also Read - Lockdown News: These States Impose Lockdown-Like Restrictions in March, Only Essential Services Allowed | Full List
Allowing Raghavan and his colleague in SIT, K Venkatesam, to quit SIT, a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said it was “placing on record” the appreciation for the work done by the SIT in probing and pursuing the riots cases in courts. Also Read - Gujarat Local Body Election Results Updates: BJP Wins All 31 Seats, PM Thanks Voters, State Cong Chief Amit Chavda Quits
“We were wonder-struck to see the work done and the number of witnesses examined in these matters,” the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, said. Also Read - Gujarat Local Body Election 2021 Updates: Polling Underway, 7% Voter Turnout Till 9 AM in Taluka Panchayats
“There have been convictions and acquittals in cases and it shows that this is both sided. A job well done,” it said.
Considering the submissions of senior advocate Harish Salve, who is assisting the top court as an amicus curiae, the bench asked A K Malhotra, another member of SIT, to oversee functioning of the probe team and file quarterly report before it in July about the progress made in the pending riots cases.
Salve said the SIT has been working tirelessly for so many years and sought relieving of Raghavan on health grounds.
The top court-appointed SIT has been probing nine major post-Godhra riots cases including the Naroda Gam riots case pertaining to the killing of eleven members of a community.
The apex court had on September 19 last year granted six months to a lower court in Gujarat to conclude trial in the 2002 Naroda Gam riots case, one of the nine post-Godhra riots matters probed by the SIT, after Salve and Raghavan sought the same saying the trial court has to examine nearly 300 witnesses.
The apex court was earlier informed that in other eight cases, investigation has been completed, the trial courts have pronounced the judgements and the cases are at the stage of appeal in the High Court.
Eleven persons belonging to the minority community were killed at Naroda Gam in 2002 riots during a bandh called to protest the Godhra train burning incident. A total of 82 persons are facing trial in the case.
In June last year, a special court had convicted 24 persons in the Gulberg society riots case in which 68 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed.
The apex court had on February 22, 2016 paved the way for pronouncement of judgement by Ahmedabad trial court in various cases including the Gulberg Society massacre case.
It had said there was no restraint on the trial judge to pronounce the verdict and granted him three months for it.
The apex court had on August 5, 2015 granted an extension of another three months to wind up proceedings in the case.
The apex court has been monitoring nine sensitive cases after the National Human Rights Commission and various NGOs termed the investigation into these as shoddy and unreliable.
The cases were about the riots in different parts of Gujarat, including the Gulberg Society, Ode, Sardarpura, Narodao Gaon, Naroda Patya, Machipith, Tarsali, Pandarwada and Raghavapura.
An estimated 2,000 people were killed in post-Godhra riots in 2002.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.