We accept the recommendations of SIT headed by retired Delhi HC Justice S.N.Dhingra that probed into 186 cases of the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots: Centre told SC

Justice S.N.Dhingra constituted for the purpose of probing cases of 1984 Anti-Sikh riots

On 15th January, 2020 the centre told the Supreme Court that they accept the recommendations of Special Investigation Team headed by retired Delhi High court judge, Justice S.N.Dhingra constituted for the purpose of probing cases of 1984 Anti-Sikh riots. The SIT has investigated nearly 186 serious criminal cases that were committed during the said riot.

Brief facts:

A large-scale riot broke out in Delhi in the year 1984 targeting the sikh community right after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 31st October, 1984 by two security guards belonging to sikh community. The people belonging to Sikh community were killed in a gruesome manner claiming around 3500 lives in which 2773 were reported in Delhi alone. Despite crucial evidences, many murderers were left scot-free by the police instead of filing charge sheet against them.

In the year 2014, the centre decided to set up a committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice G.P.Mathur to look into the possibility of re-investigation of cases that were unscrupulously closed by the police during the anti-sikh riots. The said committee submitted its report in the year 2015 reporting that there were 225 such cases needed to be relooked. The report further stated that nothing much could be done in the cases that were disposed by various courts.

On 2nd February, 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs decided to set up a Special investigation Team to probe the anti-sikh riot cases afresh. The team comprised of three members headed by Senior IPS officer Promode Asthana. The team also comprised of Retired District & Sessions Judge, Rakesh kapoor and Additional GCP with Delhi Police, Kumar Gyanesh.

The said investigating team concluded 241 cases out of 243 and approached Supreme Court for closure of 199 cases. The Supreme Court appointed a supervisory panel consisting of former judges to examine if those cases needed a closure. Subsequently the Supreme Court constituted its own team for further investigation of 199 cases. The said team constituted by the Supreme Court was headed by the Retired Delhi High Court Judge, Justice S.N. Dhingra. Justice S.N.Dhigara during his tenure as trial court judge in Karkardhooma court dealt with several cases relating to the anti-sikh riots and subsequently ordered conviction.

Key features:

1. The Committee headed by Retired Justice G.P.Mathur recommended fresh probe for the cases that were closed by the police despite clear evidences. As a result Special Investigation Team was constituted.

2. The mandate of the Special Investigation Team was to re-investigate the 243 serious criminal cases of anti-sikh riots afresh. It includes examining the records of all police stations in Delhi as well as the other states, examining the findings of Justice S.P. Jain and Justice D.K.Agarwal committee, taking appropriate steps as per law for a thorough investigation and filing of charge sheet with sufficient evidence before the respective courts.

3. The SIT after dealing with 225 cases approached the Supreme Court for the closure of 199 cases which was examined by the Supervisory Panel formed by the Supreme Court.

4. Subsequent to the examination carried out by supervisory panel, on the recommendations of a confidential report, the Supreme Court constituted a new Special Investigation Team with respect to the 199 cases on January, 2018.

5. The new Special Investigation Team was headed by the former Judge of Delhi High Court, Justice S.N.Dhingra. The team also consisted of IPS Officer, Abishek Dular and Former Special DG of the BSF, Rajdeep Singh.

6. The mandate of the newly constituted SIT was only with respect to the 199 cases and the team was mandated to carry out further investigation of those cases.

7. The SIT headed by Justice S.N.Dhingra submitted its report on November, 2019

On 15th January, 2020

The Special Investigation Team submitted its report to the Supreme Court and the said report was not disclosed to the public. On 15th January 2020, the centre represented through its Secretary-General Tushar Mehta who told the Supreme Court bench consisting of Chief Justice of India, Justice S.A.Bobde, Justice B.R.Gavai and Justice Surya Kant that they accept the recommendations of the report and assured to take appropriate action.

The Senior Advocate, R.S. Suri representing the petitioner has informed the court that he would be filing an application seeking appropriate action against the police officials who acted in Connivance with the persons involved in the crime. He further stated that these police officials could not be left unpunished for the things happened.

Upon accepting the recommendations of the SIT, the Secretary-General Tushar Mehta representing the centre requested the court to direct the registry to return records of the cases to CBI for further proceedings for which the Supreme Court has directed the registry to return the records to the Ministry of Home affairs. 

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

End Notes:

1. Times of India, 1984 anti-sikh riots: Accepted SIT recommendations, will take action, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/1984-anti-sikh-riots-accepted-sit recommendations-will-take-action-centre-tells-sc/articleshow/73266243.cms (last visited on 16th January, 2020)

2. Economic Times, Special Investigation Team probing 1984 anti-sikh riot cases gets 1 year extension, https://m.economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/special- investigation-team-probing-1984-anti-sikh-riots-cases-gets-1-yearextension/articleshow/48442618.cms,(last visited on 16th January, 2020)

3. News Services Division, All India Radio, Centre accepts SIT recommendations in 1984 anti-sikh riot cases, http://www.newsonair.com/Main-News-Details.aspx?id=378769, (last visited on 16th January, 2020)

4. Livemint, SC panel to examine SIT decision to close 1984 anti-sikh riot case, https://www.livemint.com/Politics/EcajZj1LdjnBgnywgdod2I/SC-panel-to-examine-SIT decision-to-close-1984-antiSikh-rio.html?facet=amp (last visited on 16th January, 2020)

5. RS TV, Rajya Sabha, Special Investigation Team reopens seven 1984 anti-riot cases, https://rstv.nic.in/special-investigation-team-reopens-seven-1984-anti-sikh-riot-cases.html, (last visited on 16th January, 2020)

Lavanya Narayanan
I am Lavanya Narayanan, pursuing a master's in international law. With three years into the profession, I am currently reviving my long-forgotten passion for writing. As and when I find a time I watch debates and interviews on the current affairs of our nation. My areas of interest are criminal law, women and child rights especially toddlers. I love listening to puranic stories. I believe accepting things you don’t know as you don’t know leads you to the path of growth. Happy reading!