Delhi HC upholds conviction of 88 people in 1984 riots case

New Delhi: After a span of 22 years, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday upheld the Karkardooma trial court’s order convicting 88 people in a case relating to 1984 anti-Sikh riots that took place in East Delhi’s Trilokpuri area.

Justice RK Gauba in his judgment penned, “34 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? Is our judicial apparatus at all equipped to deal with the crimes of such magnitude? Do we have lessons to be learnt from this?”

“It is indeed a matter of lament that there has been no meaningful thought spared till date to usher in reforms in the judicial process to effectively deal with the cases of communal riots which are engineered by those who have clout or influence- of various kind.” he added.
The court cancelled the bail bonds of all the accused and directed to forthwith surrender to undergo the punishment awarded against them.

The single judge bench further directed re-examination of the 22 bodies, the identification of which was not possible at the time of filing the FIR.

“It is likely that 22 homicidal deaths may not have seen any criminal action initiated against anyone till date. In the foregoing facts and circumstances, this court directs the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to have the material, and the evidence, in above nature, re-examined by an appropriate agency for such further action under the criminal law as may be requisite,” the judgment said.

In 1996, the Sessions Court of Karkardooma had convicted 88 of the total arrested accused. The convicts had later filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court against the trial court’s order.
More than 100 people were arrested in November 1984 for allegedly rioting, burning houses and violating curfew imposed in Trilokpuri area of Delhi.

In another case relating to the 1984 riots, a Delhi court had on November 20 this year pronounced death penalty to Yashpal Singh and life imprisonment to Naresh Sehrawat for killing two Sikhs during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The court also slapped Rs 35 lakh fine on each of them.

Massive riots had erupted across the country after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards. As per the official records, around 2,800 Sikhs were killed across India, including 2,100 in Delhi, during the clashes.