Police in North East Delhi in the aftermath of the riots. Photo: PTI/Manvendar Vashish

New Delhi: After the Delhi police was pulled up recently by a city court for its ‘lackadaisical’ handling of the investigation into the riots of February 2020, police commissioner Rakesh Asthana has formed a special investigation cell.

The cell will monitor the investigation into the northeast Delhi riots, in which at least 53 people were killed and over 200 were injured.

K.G. Tyagi, ACP (retired) has been appointed as a consultant to monitor the riot cases and court matters, an official order issued on Sunday said.

The order said that the cell was formed to expedite and streamline the investigation, besides ensuring proper scrutiny of the cases registered and being investigated by the northeast district. It will be chaired by the special commissioner of police (Central Zone) and will have as members the joint commissioner of police (eastern range), deputy commissioner of police (DCP) and additional DCP of the northeast district.

The cell shall take stock of all pending investigations and trials, and “immediately chalk out a time-bound strategy to ensure expeditious investigation and effective prosecution” of the cases. The emphasis should be on scientific and technical evidence to be brought on record, the order said.

The committee shall ensure the filing of all supplementary chargesheets in court expeditiously.

In all cases where the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) results are pending, the cell will follow up will with the laboratory’s director with the request to expedite the results.

The officers shall personally liaise with the special public prosecutors (SPPs) to ensure their presence in court in all matters, to represent the case of prosecution on each date effectively. They will be thoroughly briefed well in advance, before every date of hearing, it said.

The team shall also ensure that all witnesses and investigating officers are appearing in court in time, properly briefed and well prepared.

The police headquarters has attached 14 police officers, who had earlier been serving in the northeast district during the riots and had assisted in the investigation of these cases, to expedite and complete the pending cases.

The order stated that the monitoring cell shall ensure that all these officers are properly tasked and monitored to achieve the desired results.

Delhi chief metropolitan magistrate Arun Kumar Garh last week came down heavily on the city police for its “lackadaisical approach” and said that no steps for the proper prosecution of the 2020 riots cases had been taken by the police commissioner and other top officials.

These remarks were made after the prosecutor failed to appear before the court despite repeated calls and the investigating officer came to the court late without reading the police file and was unable to answer the court’s queries.

Garg issued directions to the commissioner of police to ensure that things were in order. He directed the top cop to personally look into the issues and said failure to do so may result in his passing “an adverse order”.

This story first appeared on thewire.in