Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana has formed a Special Investigation Cell to monitor the inquiry into the communal violence that hit the national capital in 2020, Bar and Bench reported on Thursday.

At least 53 people had died and hundreds were injured amid clashes that had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and February 26 in North East Delhi. The majority of those killed were Muslims.

In several cases related to the violence, courts have pointed out flaws in investigations carried out by the Delhi Police.

On September 19, Asthana issued an order to form the Special Investigation Cell to “expedite” and “ensure proper scrutiny” of cases.

The committee will be headed by Special Commissioner of Police (Central Zone) Rakesh Khurana, according to The Indian Express. He has been asked to review the pending cases and “chalk out a time-bound strategy” to expedite prosecution.

The panel will also comprise joint commissioner of police (east), deputy commissioner of police, (north east), and additional deputy commissioner of police (north east). Assistant Commissioner of Police KG Tyagi will be appointed as a consultant to monitor the cases in court.

In his order, Asthana said that 14 police officers who were posted in North East Delhi when the riots took place should be included in the investigation.

The committee will have to file supplementary chargesheets in court.

The panel will also have to ensure that the special public prosecutors are present in court during the hearing of all cases related to the violence. It also has to make certain that the witnesses and the investigating officers appear in the court on time.

In case the investigating officers are unable to attend the hearing due to unavoidable circumstances, the station house officer will have to be present in the court or send a responsible officer who “knows the facts” of the cases.

Investigation in Delhi violence

Numerous court orders granting bail to those named in the violence cases have criticised the Delhi Police investigation.

On Wednesday, a Delhi court had observed that the police was trying to “cover its flaws” in the investigation by filing supplementary chargesheets against the accused.

The court cleared 10 people accused of arson, saying that the initial complaint against them did not mention “mischief by fire or [an] explosive substance” – something that would suggest a case of arson.

Similarly, on September 9, a Delhi court had cleared a 22-year-old man of arson charge as it was not mentioned in the initial complaint, but was added through a supplementary chargesheet.

The court had urged the police and other investigation agencies to treat cases pertaining to the violence with “utmost sensitivity”.

On September 3, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav had said that the Delhi riots will be remembered for the failure of investigation agencies and will “surely torment the sentinels of democracy”.

Further, in at least three cases, courts have pointed to irregularities in the manner in which FIRs were filed. On some occasions, the police filed multiple cases in the same police station for the same incident. In other cases, it clubbed multiple complaints in a single FIR, found out.