Key points in judgement in Trilokpuri 1984 anti-Sikh riots case

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New Delhi, Nov 28 (IANS) The Delhi High Court made significant observations on Wednesday in a case of anti-Sikh violence of 1984 that led to numerous deaths in Trilokpuri in east Delhi:

The anti-Sikh riots of 1984 are indeed a dark chapter in the history of independent India which, it is often said, this country must put behind so as to move ahead.

But for those who suffered personal loss in the form of killings of their near and dear ones, or destruction of their homes, there possibly can never be a closure.

The theories of politico-criminal nexus, aided and assisted by police or civil service officials loyal to the cause, being behind the mayhem that was wrecked, virtually with impunity or immunity, continue to abound and haunt.

There is also a contrarian view that such dark chapters in the history of the land must never get effaced from memory since they confront us, the civil society at large, by showing a mirror, to expose to us the rot that lies within.

That the criminal justice administration may falter or crumble, or lose its potency, is no longer a distant doomsday scenario. It appears to have arrived and stares at us in the face. The question as to whether the guilt of the appellants for complicity in rioting and mischief by fire was correctly concluded or not has come up for determination 34 years after the crimes were committed and 22 years after the trial court had rendered its decision.

The failure of the police and the civil authorities, in controlling the situation or meeting the challenge by enforcing the law, has been chronicled not only in the media reports but also found to be a fact in decisions of the courts of law, in various cases brought at almost each level of the judicial hierarchy, as indeed recorded in the reports of numerous Commissions of inquiry or Committees.

The circumstances that prevailed during the riots are the harsh reality of which judicial notice may be taken.

This case is one of the several cases that were registered around that period, the grievances of the victim community, and the civil society at large, consistently being that there was utter failure on the part of the police in not only controlling the situation but also in bringing the perpetrators of the crimes to justice.

Allegations have been made … that the police officials … instead of discharging their obligations turned their gaze the other way or made endeavour to ensure that those guilty could either escape or even if brought to trial could avoid their guilt being proved.

Thirty-four long years have passed after the crimes were committed and, yet, the victims await justice and closure. Is this what we call a potent and effective criminal justice system?

–IANS

akk/mr

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