NEW DELHI: Blaming the Delhi Police for ‘hushing up’ the investigation in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases, a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation team has also faulted the courts for ‘not conducting the trial’ in the cases as per the procedure.
In its report submitted to the Supreme Court, the Justice S N Dhingra Committee, which re-examined 186 closed cases pertaining to the riots, said “the whole effort of the police and the administration has been to hush up the criminal cases concerning riots”.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench headed by CJI S A Bobde that the government had accepted the report and would take the necessary action as per the recommendations.
The panel noted that hundreds of affidavits were received by Justice Rangnath Misra Commission with respect to killing, arson and looting by the rioters. But instead of directing the registration of FIRs, committee after the committee was formed which further delayed the registration of cases for years.
The report recommended action against SHO S S Tyagi of the Kalyanpuri police station in Delhi, saying he had ‘disarmed Sikhs’ making them vulnerable and was ‘involved in conspiracy’ with others. The case should be referred to the riots cell, it said.
The SIT was set up in January 2018 to sift through the records and supervise further probe into these 186 cases in which closure reports were filed earlier.
The report stated as to how the police employed several tactics to dilute the cases and cited a case wherein an omnibus FIR was filed on 337 separate complaints about incidents which had no connection to each other.
“The police deliberately made it humanly impossible for themselves to investigate complaints. How can one investigating officer probe 500 cases, trace witnesses, prepare challans and proceed in court against accused persons?” read the report.
“Despite a large number of victims approaching various agencies soon after the riots, and for a few years thereafter, a large number of murders, rioting, looting and arson remained unpunished and untraced. The basic reason for these crimes remaining unpunished and culprits going scot-free was lack of interest shown by the police and by the authorities in handling these cases as per law or to proceed with the intention of punishing the culprits,” it stated.
Justice Dhingra also named S S Bal, the judge mandated to try all riots cases in Delhi from 1989 to 1995.
“It is not understood how the courts proceeded with trial of several crimes of rioting, murders, arson, looting which took place at different locations, at different times and even on different dates, together. This was a major reason of the failure of several cases because the accused persons were wise enough to drag the trial by absenting one after another on trial dates,” the report noted, adding that “acquittals were handed over by judges to accused of 1984 riots in a routine manner”.
“None of the judgments on record show that the judges were alive to the situation of riots and to the fact that for the delay in lodging FIRs and statement of witnesses, the victims were not responsible,” the report stated while recommending to explore the possibility of filing an appeal in certain cases.