New Delhi, March 25
Apart from three IPS officers from Gujarat - Geeta Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia — the team would include two retired IPS officers from outside the state — ex-CBI chief R.K. Raghavan and former UP cadre IPS officer C.V. Satpathy.
The formal order constituting the team would be passed by the apex court on Wednesday when it would take up other connected issues related to the 2002 communal riots.
A bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam announced its intention to constitute the SIT after hearing amicus curiae Harish Salve and senior counsel for the Gujarat government Mukul Rohtagi for over one hour on the petition filed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for transferring the probe and trial outside Gujarat.
In 2003, the NHRC had filed the petition for the transfer of the case and trial expressing fears that it would not be conducted in a fair and transparent manner due to the hostile environment encountered by the witnesses, most of whom had turned hostile due to alleged threats and inducements.
These cases mainly related to the gruesome killings of minorities in places like Godhra, Gulmarg Society, Naroda Gaon, Naroda Patya, Sardarpura, ODH and Deepla Darwaza.
Modi had faced a nationwide flak after hundreds of Muslims were killed in the post-Godhra violence allegedly incited by his party men.
The apex court had earlier transferred a riot case to Mumbai after witnesses turned hostile due to alleged threats.
Amicus curiae, Salve suggested that a probe can be conducted either by the CBI or a SIT comprising “officers of unimpeachable integrity”, Gujarat government counsel Mukul Rohtagi opposed the setting up of any outside agency to conduct the investigation.
He pleaded that since there were several officers of impeccable integrity the court or the amicus curiae can pick the officers for constituting the SIT.