The new SIT, entrusted with prising open the old cases, holds promise. It has been set up by the Supreme Court and the judge named for the exercise, Justice SN Dhingra, has a track record of bold judgments and scathing strictures while dealing with such cases. He will be on familiar territory. During the 1990s, as Sessions Judge in the Karkardooma Court in Delhi, he incarcerated senior Congress minister Bhagat in an anti-Sikh riot instance. Then, he castigated the Delhi Police for their chaotic manner of prosecution of hundreds of cases spread all over Delhi. As a result, 100 cases were clubbed together and the trial streamlined. Again, it was Dhingra who convicted and sentenced Kishori Lal, dubbed the “butcher of Trilokpuri”, and the other accused of a grisly massacre of 1984.
This SIT has two months to present its status report to the SC. There is hope, but also the ever-present fear of politicians using the reopening of the cases for political shenanigans. Justice has been inordinately delayed; it must be delivered so that the victims’ families get a sense of closure.