1984 anti-Sikh riots: Court acquits three cops, one other

A local court has acquitted four persons, including three Delhi Police officials, in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case for allegedly killing three members of a family, holding that the complainant and witnesses turned "hostile and contradicted their earlier statements".

PTI| Updated: Sep 25, 2014, 00:09 AM IST

New Delhi: A local court has acquitted four persons, including three Delhi Police officials, in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case for allegedly killing three members of a family, holding that the complainant and witnesses turned "hostile and contradicted their earlier statements".

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau acquitted then Station House Officer (SHO) of Nangloi Police Station, Ram Pal Singh Rana, then sub-inspector Dalel Singh, then Head Constable Karam Singh and Satpal Gupta of offences punishable under the IPC, including murder, rioting, kidnapping and threatening to give false evidence.

Proceedings against two other accused-- Prem Chand Jain and Ram Niwas-- were abated as they expired during the pendency of the trial.

While acquitting the accused, the court noted that the testimony of complainant Gurbachan Singh, whose three family members were allegedly burnt to death by the accused on November 1, 1984, was inconsistent and he repeatedly changed his stand.

"It is highly unfair for the special public prosecutor and counsel for victims to blame the State when the witnesses i.E. alleged victims are themselves inconsistent and wavering as regards the incident and do not support their earlier versions," the court said.

It also noted that Gurbachan had claimed in his affidavit before Justice Ranganath Commission in 1985 that the three policemen and Satpal Gupta had killed his father and two brothers, but during his deposition in the court in 2004 he did not specify the names of the accused persons and also resiled from his earlier statement that he saw his relatives being burnt to death in front of him.

"No reliance can be placed on such uncorroborated version and the statement being contradictory, inconsistent which suffer from material contradictions, improvements and after thought embellishments," the court said.

"I hereby hold that Gurbachan is a non-credible,unreliable and untrustworthy witness whose testimony on the face of it is tainted with a sense of extreme hatred and vengeance for the ruling party of that time," the judge said.

The court also noted that bodies of none of the alleged victims were neither recovered nor there was any documentary record in the form of postmortem reports or death certificates to establish the factum of their death.

Following the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh security personnels on October 31, 1984, riots took place in different parts of the country including Delhi and its impact reached Nangloi on November 1, 1984.

The court's verdict came on two separate charge sheets filed in a case registered in 1991 regarding the alleged killings of five persons on November 1 and 2, 1984.

The complainant had claimed that despite repeated attempts, the police had not lodged an FIR in the case at the time of riots in 1984.

The FIR in the case was lodged after a committee formed by Justice Ranganath Commission, which was set up to probe riot- related cases, forwarded a letter to the Delhi government in June 1991 to process Gurbachan's complaint.

The court, in its judgement, also noted that the claims of Gurbachan have not been corroborated or supported by his family members who were with him at the time of the incident.

"Witnesses who are inconsistent and repeatedly changed their stands and statements depending upon the social and political environment only cause putrefaction and paralysis of the trial. There is little that the court of law can do when such witnesses themselves are hesitant.

"I hereby hold that in so far as the accused Satpal Gupta, Inspector Ram Pal Singh Rana, SI Dalel Singh and HC Karam Singh are concerned, the circumstances reflected from the material on record do not stand conclusively established," the judge said.

In his affidavit, Gurbachan had claimed before the commission that around 10 police officers along with a mob of over 500 people were attacking Sikhs and the six accused persons with deadly weapons forced his father and two brothers out of their residence and beat them up with sticks. Thereafter they burnt them alive, he claimed.

He had also claimed that he saw Sajjan Kumar, the then Congress MP of their area, who was directing the mob to attack and kill Sikhs.

However, in his deposition in 2004, Gurbachan denied having seen the accused or his family members being killed. He then filed an application in 2010, claiming that he was under grave threat from the Congress MLA and could not depose correctly.