A week after the Delhi high court order, the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) on Friday asked police to provide 24-hour security to three witnesses in 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases involving senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar.
DS Punia, member secretary of DLSA, directed Delhi police commissioner to provide security to prosecution witnesses Sheela Kaur, Popri Kaur and Joginder Singh after they expressed apprehension of threats. A CBI report was also filed subsequently.
Secretary is the nodal officer appointed by the high court earlier in a similar matter till the enactment of new legislation on the issue. The nodal officer also asked other six witnesses to appear before him on October 10.
On September 18, a bench headed by chief justice N V Ramana had referred the matter to DLSA while hearing a PIL for direction to provide protection to the witnesses in 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases.
The bench had asked senior advocate HS Phoolka, counsel for petitioner, to approach the DLSA.
A PIL was filed in the high court by 'November 1984 Carnage Justice Committee' for a direction to Delhi and Punjab governments to provide security to the witnesses during the pendency of the cases before the trial court.
Citing a list of witnesses in two anti-Sikh riot cases, the PIL said, "Despite various judgements and orders passed by various courts, including the high court and the apex court, to the effect that the witnesses should not be allowed to come under pressure of the accused and that it is the duty of the government to provide adequate protection to the witnesses, the respondents have failed to abide by the same."
According to the plea, the witnesses belong to poor strata of society and are not only scared but "under constant threat from accused Sajjan Kumar" and would lose their odd jobs.
It referred to a recent judgement on witness protection issue in Jessica Lal murder case and said the Delhi high court had directed the government to frame witness protection policy but nothing has been done so far.
The PIL said the Punjab government had earlier provided security to the witnesses on CBI's request in the cases but it was withdrawn later.
The PIL further said that on the plea of witnesses, the trial court had in July directed the investigating officer to provide his phone number to the witnesses but not directed the government to provide security to them.
In July 2010, the trial court had framed charges against Kumar, Brahmanand Gupta, Peru, Khushal Singh and Ved Prakash in connection with the case of killing of six persons in the riots that had occurred after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.
Besides charges of murder and rioting, the trial court had also framed charges for the offence of spreading enmity between two communities against the accused in the case.
CBI had filed two charge sheets against Kumar and others in January 2010 in the riots cases registered in 2005 on the recommendation of justice GT Nanavati Commission which had probed the sequence of events leading to the violence.