The Delhi high court on Wednesday sought the response of those acquitted in five 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases as to why it should not order reinvestigation and retrial against them as they had faced allegations of “horrifying crimes against humanity”.
A bench of Justices Gita Mittal and Anu Malhotra issued show cause notices to several accused and complainants seeking their response.
“The complaints disclose horrifying crimes against humanity. These point out that male members of one community were singled out for elimination. These suggest that these were no ordinary crimes, or simple murders (if ever a murder could be termed as simple). Treated as individual cases, while the culprits got away scot free, everybody else, the police, the prosecutors, even the courts, appear to have failed the victims, and, most importantly society.
“Perhaps, had these terrible offences in 1984 been punished and the offenders brought to book, the history of crime in this country may have been different. We are of the view that if we fail to take action even now, we would be miserably failing in our constitutional duty as well as in discharging judicial function,” the bench said.
The court issued suo motu directions to “secure ends of justice” after perusing the trial court records regarding the acquittal of accused in five different cases in 1986 relating to killing of Sikhs during the riots which broke out a day after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.
The trial court records were placed before the high court by the CBI during the hearing of another 1984 riot case in which the acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and punishment awarded to other convicts is under challenge by CBI, the riot victims and convicts.
The bench, which directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to ensure compliance of its judgement, also appointed an amicus curiae in each of the five cases and listed the matter before it for April 20.
It said even if each complaint could be examined as a standalone crime, it is undisputed that each of them relates to the serious offence of murder.
“Some of the accused persons are implicated for commission of more than one such offence. Would these crimes fall in the category where truth has become a casualty at the hands of investigator, prosecutor and in the trial?” it asked.