March 24th, 2017
On 24 March, the Supreme Court directed Union Government to submit the files of 199 cases related to 1984 Anti-Sikh riots wrapped up by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was setup to re-investigate the case. An investigation is due to ascertain the reason behind closing the cases.
The step has been taken after petitioners from Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee and other private bodies raised the concern.
The three-judge Bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra asked Mukul Rohatgi, the Attorney General, to produce the files within three weeks and gave another day of hearing on April 25.
This order was given despite Rohatgi’s claims that everything was transparent in the SIT’s decision to close the cases, and 62 of cases were untraced.
The Narendra Modi government had set up a SIT to reinvestigate the anti-Sikh riot cases of 1984 which have been closed. After two years, the SIT could only probe into 59 cases and had filed a charge-sheet in four.
A total of 3,325 people were killed in the riots including 2,733 deaths in Delhi, and the rest occurred in Haryana, UP, Maharashtra, and other States.
Observing the past two years, the SIT closed 199 criminal cases in connection with 293 cases handed over to them in 2015. The team comprised judicial officer and two Inspector General-rank IPS officers. This team was set up on 12 February 2015, after the recommendation by Home Ministry.
The court observed its intent to focus on the 199 cases in respect of the decision taken by SIT to not to launch a prosecution.
Arvind Data, the Senior Advocate, appeared for the petitioners and clarified that only four charge sheets had been filed of the 293 cases and no closure reports were filed in the court of the 199 cases.
The SIT submitted a report in the Supreme Court justifying that 35 cases were sent to a preliminary enquiry, and 28 out of them have been completed. The remaining are pending for consideration. 59 were sent for further probe, out of which 42 were closed, and 13 were pending investigation. Charge sheets have been filed against four cases.
Due to lack of evidence, the Delhi Police closed 241 cases. The Justice Nanavati Commission had recommended reopening any four cases, and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) acted as per the recommendation. A charge sheet was also filed against one instance, and five persons including a former MLA were convicted.
Sajjan Kumar, the Congress leader, was also questioned by the SIT about his connection in the case. It was alleged that he instigated the mob in Janakpuri on 1 November 1984, which led to the killing of two Sikh brothers- Sohan Singh and Avtar Singh.
The 1984 anti-Sikh riots, which flared up after the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, left around 3,000 people dead.