1984 Anti-Sikh riots: A ‘dark chapter’ in history of independent India, said Delhi HC while upholding conviction of 88 people

Taking a strong exception to the existing laws dealing with communal riots, the Delhi HC sought amendments to the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 and the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of 88 convicts in the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots in the east Delhi’s Trilokpuri area, reported ANI.

According to the reports, the 88 convicts had been arrested in East Delhi’s Trilokpuri area and were sentenced to 5-year jail term by a trial court in 1996. The convicts had challenged the August 27, 1996 judgement of a Sessions Court which had convicted 88 out of the 107 people arrested on November 2, 1984, for rioting, burning houses and curfew violation in Trilokpuri area of East Delhi.

Justice RK Gauba, while dismissing the petition, said that all those convicted must serve the 5-year jail term. The Delhi High Court, by upholding the conviction has directed all the 88 convicts to surrender within four weeks.

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The Delhi High Court termed that Anti-Sikh riots of 1984 as a “dark chapter” in the history of independent India. The Court added that “it is often said, this country must put behind so as to move ahead But, for those who suffered a personal loss in the form of killings of their near and dear ones, or destruction of their homes, there possibly can never be a closure.”

“There is also a contrarian view that such dark chapters in the history of the land must never get effaced from memory since they confront us, the civil society at large, by showing a mirror, to expose to us the rot that lies within,” said the Delhi HC.

The Court blamed the politico-criminal nexus, aided and assisted by police or civil service officials loyal to the cause, which works with “impunity or immunity”, as the reason behind such terrible acts. The Delhi HC accused the socio-political leadership of instigating communal riots of the likes of 1984 since the days of partition in 1947.

Taking a strong exception to the existing laws dealing with communal riots, the Delhi HC sought amendments to the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 and the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 to entrust investigations to SIT to oversee prosecutions against the offenses committed during communal riots.

The Court suggested to effectively use the technological advancements, by utilizing materials or video coverage as pieces of evidence. “For this, the law must mandatorily require media persons or houses to share the product of their efforts with the investigating agency in all cases of communal riots,” observed the court.

The court expressed its disappointment over the delay in justice delivery to the victims and the failure to usher judicial reforms, it said, “There is no contest to the case for the prosecution that the crimes alleged here were actually committed. 34 long years have passed after the crimes were committed and, yet, the victims await justice and closure. Is this what we call a potent and effective criminal justice system?”

Recently, Delhi’s Patiala House Court had declared the death sentence for convict Yashpal Singh and announced life imprisonment for another convict Naresh Sehrawat for their involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

The 1984 Anti-Sikh riots took place aftermath of the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which resulted in brutal killings of more than 2800 people according to official figures. Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler were directly accused of large role in orchestrating the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India.

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