The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it has accepted the recommendations of a special investigation team, headed by retired Delhi High Court judge Justice SN Dhingra, which looked into 186 cases related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, PTI reported. The Centre said it will take appropriate action in these cases as per the law.
“Lot of steps are required to be taken and they will be taken,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, said.
Senior advocate RS Suri, appearing for the petitioners, told a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde that the SIT report is damning for several police officers and that applications will be filed seeking action against the police officers who were involved in the crimes committed during the carnage.
At least 2,733 people died in Delhi alone in November 1984, as enraged mobs attacked Sikh localities in the aftermath of the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31 that year.
“The report suggests that some action should be taken against police officials as they were in connivance,” Suri said. “These police officials cannot go scot free. We will file a response to the report.”
Mehta, for his part, told the court that the records of these cases, kept in the court’s registry, should be returned to the Central Bureau of Investigation so that further proceedings can be carried out. Subsequently, the bench directed that the records be sent to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Supreme Court set up the special investigation team on January 11, 2018, to supervise further investigation into 186 cases in which closure reports had been filed earlier. In March 2019, the SIT informed the Supreme Court that 50% of its work was done. The court gave the team two more months to finish its work.
On November 30, 2019, the SIT filed submitted its final report to the Supreme Court. The Centre sought the court’s permission to disband the SIT after placing its report in a sealed cover. Senior advocate HS Phoolka, representing the riot victims, however, asked the court to first examine the SIT’s report before disbanding it. Phoolka said the court must see if anything more was required to be done by the team.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in December 2019 that the violence could have been managed better if the government had paid heed to late Congress leader IK Gujral’s advice. Singh, who attended a function to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Gujral, said the former prime minister had suggested deploying the Army at the earliest. While the riots broke out on October 31, 1984, and the killing began the following day, the Army was not deployed in the national capital till November 3.