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No intention to punish culprits, acquittals were given in routine manner, says SIT

No intention to punish culprits, acquittals were given in routine manner, says SIT
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New Delhi: In a scathing report on the way the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases were handled by the police, administration and even judiciary, a Supreme Court appointed SIT has said there was no intention of punishing the culprits and acquittals were "handed over by judges" to the accused in a "routine manner".

The report of the SIT, headed by retired Delhi High Court judge Justice S N Dhingra, has said that "whole efforts" of police and administration "seem to have been to hush up the criminal cases concerning riots".

The cases were registered to give "clean chit" to certain persons, it said.

The report, which was submitted in the apex court, dealt with 186 anti-Sikh riots cases referred to the SIT which was set up by the top court on January 11, 2018 to supervise further probe into these cases in which closure reports were filed earlier.

It said the basic reason for these crimes remaining unpunished and culprits getting scot-free was lack of interest shown by the police and the authorities in handling these cases as per law or to proceed with the intention of punishing those involved.

The report is also critical of the way these cases were handled by trial courts here and said: "It is not understood how the courts proceeded with trial of several crimes of rioting, murders, arson, looting having taken place at different locations, different times and even different dates together."

The SIT has recommended exploring possibility of filing appeals, along with application for condonation of delay, against the trial court orders of acquittals in some of these cases.

"Acquittals were handed over by judges to accused of 1984 riots in a routine manner," the report said. "None of the judgements on record show that the judges were alive to the situation of 1984 riots and were alive to the fact that for delay in lodging FIRs and statement of witnesses, the victims were not responsible". It said that due to protracted trial in these cases, the victims and witnesses were so tired of coming to the courts time and again that most of them had given up and those who had not given up, the courts refused to give credibility to their testimony on grounds, including delay in lodging of FIR and in recording evidence.

The report said the scrutiny of files reveals evidence of involvement of the then inspector Survir Singh Tyagi, then SHO of Kalyan Puri police station, in a conspiracy with rioters. "It was a case where Insp. Survir Singh Tyagi deliberately disarmed local Sikhs of their licensed arms so that rioters could make them victim and cause loss of life and property. He was suspended from service but later on reinstated and promoted as ACP. The committee is of the view that his case be referred to riots cell of Delhi Police for action," it said.

The report said that perusal of files revealed that FIRs were not registered by the police incident-wise or crime-wise and instead, several complaints were clubbed in one FIR.

"Even the judges and magistrate did not give directions to the police to file separate 'challans' (police report) incident-wise/crime-wise," it said.

There was no order of separation of trial incident-wise or crime-wise by the trial judges despite a specific provision in law that challan in each case had to be filed separately and each case has to be tried separately, it said.

"Had the administration and police been serious in punishing the culprits, a special task force for investigating crimes committed within jurisdiction of each police station should have been created by providing necessary infrastructure including forensic teams and labs to this task force," it added. It said bodies of hundreds of riot victims were recovered and many of them remained unidentified but the police even did not preserve any forensic evidence so that at later stage, the identification could be done.

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