New Delhi: Lauding the Supreme Court order to constitute a new three-member special investigation team (SIT) for monitoring the probe in 186 anti-Sikh massacre cases, senior advocate H.S. Phoolka, who has pro bono fought cases for the riot victims since 1984, said that the move will help in reopening closed cases.
Phoolka said that other cases being investigated by the SIT, which was constituted in 2015, would continue to be handled like earlier.
Phoolka, who, in July last year, gave up his position as the leader of opposition in the Punjab assembly to represent the victims of the riots, said that the appointment of the new SIT members would set rolling the process of expediting the 186 cases. “We always wanted these cases, which were lying closed, to be handled by a new SIT. With the appointment of new members, the process will move ahead”.
Phoolka, who lost the Lok Sabha elections from Punjab as an Aam Aadmi Party candidate in 2014, won the assembly election last year and was subsequently made leader of the opposition in the House by the party. However, the Delhi Bar Council disallowed him from representing the victims of the riots in several cases against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and others on the grounds that as leader of the opposition in Punjab assembly he enjoyed an office of profit.
In June last year, he decided to give up the cabinet-rank post in the state to return to Delhi and fight the cases.
With the cases having reached a very “crucial” stage and having put in 30 years of hard work to ensure that a large number of victims got justice, Phoolka did not want to let go of these.
“It is a question of 30 years of hard work which has gone into these cases so that the main culprits are punished. I think at this stage my presence in these cases is very important,” he had said, adding that nothing was dearer to him than getting justice for the riot victims.
“I am standing in the court right now and the names of the members of the SIT would be decided today,” he told The Wire.
The apex court had directed the Centre to suggest the names at the earlier and noted that the proposed committee would be headed by a former high court judge and consist of one retired and one serving police officer. It had also instructed that the police officer would not be below the rank of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) at the time of superannuation.
The need for constitution of the new SIT arose because the Centre had submitted that out of the 250 cases which were investigated by the SIT, closure reports were filed in 241. Out of these cases, it was found that 186 cases were closed without investigation. The new SIT would now look into these cases.