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1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom Reopen 1984 Riots Case Against Jagdish Tytler: Court


Jun 1, 2004
Reopen 1984 riots case against Jagdish Tytler: Court
Smriti Singh


NEW DELHI: The ghost of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots has returned yet again to haunt Congress leader JagdishTytler. A sessions court on Wednesday ordered reopening of the case against him despite CBI giving him the clean chit twice.

The former Union minister is accused of instigating a mob on November 1, 1984, whose actions led to the death of three persons taking shelter in a gurdwara.

Setting aside the order of a magisterial court, which had accepted the CBI's closure report in 2010, the court directed the agency to record the statements of purported witnesses.

"CBI is directed to conduct further investigation...and to record statements of witnesses, who it had come to know during the investigation itself, are claiming to be eyewitnesses of the incident," additional sessions judge Anuradha Shukla Bhardwaj said.

"Let the law take its own course," Tytler told TOI, putting up a brave front. "CBI has nothing on me and I will come out clean. Today, the court has asked CBI to further investigate and has said nothing against me. This matter is purely between CBI and Lakhwinder Kaur (complainant). I am not in the picture," the veteran Congress leader said.

The court's order came on a plea challenging the magisterial court's order that accepted CBI's closure report. Appearing for the riot victims and Lakhwinder Kaur, whose husband Badal Singh was one of the victims, senior advocate H S Phoolka had sought the court's direction for further investigations. Phoolka had alleged that the agency disregarded the statement of material witnesses. Kaur in her plea had claimed there are four persons, Resham Singh, Chanchal Singh, Alam Singh and Santosh Singh, who witnessed the incident.

The CBI had sought dismissal of the Kaur's plea saying the probe had made it clear that Tytler was not present on November 1, 1984 at Gurudwara Pulbangash in north Delhi, where three people were killed during the riots. He was at Teen Murti Bhawan, where Indira Gandhi's body lay in state, on that day, the agency had said.

While the CBI has given a clean chit to Tytler twice in the past citing the witnesses as "non reliable", Wednesday's order left the investigating agency red-faced as the court found fault with the probe for not examining all available witnesses.

"We understand that the CBI reserves its right to conclude that these witnesses were planted and not truthworthy and thus to file a closure report giving its opinion on the issue, however, it did not have any right to have not recorded the statements of these witnesses and thus to have prevented the court from forming its own opinion regarding reliability of these witnesses," it said in its 12-page order.

The CBI had contended that the statements of eyewitness Surinder Singh, who had died, were contradictory and could not be relied upon. The court, however, cited a Supreme Court judgment in another 1984 riots case against Sajjan Kumar, in which it was held that contradictions in the statements of witnesses were a matter to decided during the trial and could not be considered earlier.

"Going by the law laid down by the Supreme Court, the contradictions in the statements of witness Surinder Singh given at different points of time could not be analysed and read for or against any party at the stage of summoning," it said.

The sessions court also pulled up the trial court which had accepted the CBI's plea that Surinder Singh was not reliable and, as he had died, the contradictions in his statements could not be explained. Citing the apex court's judgment, the ASJ said the death of a witness could not be a ground to conclude that no evidence would come to corroborate the statements made by him. "On the contrary, the trial court was required to consider if there was material on record which could corroborate the statements of the witness," the ASJ said.

The court said CBI had an "obligation" to record the statement of three persons based in the US, whose names were taken by Singh as fellow witnesses. "The moment this statement of the witness was recorded, irrespective of whether he was telling truth or lie, the investigating agency had an obligation to have recorded the statements of these persons or at least to have made enquiries from them," it said.

As the court pronounced the order, a large number of riot victims gathered outside the complex cheered and raised slogans against Tytler and fellow Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, against whom another court has reserved its judgment in a riot case.

Tytler's alleged role in the killing of the three persons - Badal Singh, Thakur Singh and Gurcharan Singh -was re-investigated earlier by the CBI after a court had in December 2007 refused to accept its closure report.



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