If the credibility of our criminal justice system has to be restored and if we have to win the confidence of the Sikh community, it is important that further investigation against Jagdish Tytler be done in a time-bound manner by a special investigation team which reports directly to the court, says B Raman
In its online edition, news magazine Outlook has carried a detailed chronology of the case against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler over allegations of his involvement in the anti-Sikh riots that shook Delhi in 1984.
Nearly 3,000 Sikhs were killed in bloody riots across Delhi in the wake of the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards over the Khalistan issue.
The carnage led to two kinds of complaints by sections of the Sikh community. The first was about studied inaction by the Delhi police who allegedly didn’t take any effective action to stop the rioters. The second was regarding the role of some Congress functionaries in the riots.
Three of the Congress functionaries -- accused by some sections of the Sikh community of orchestrating the carnage -- were H K L Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar. Bhagat is dead. Tytler and Sajjan Kumar have faced inquiries and investigations by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The Government of India ordered Ved Marwah, former Delhi police commissioner, to inquire into complaints of police inaction during the riots. When it was found that he had taken his task seriously and was trying to identify police officers guilty of inaction, the inquiry was taken away from him. The whole issue was subsequently covered up.
The investigation by the CBI was perceived by many to be another cover-up exercise to protect the Congress functionaries allegedly involved, particularly Tytler, who was considered to be close to the Gandhi family. Tytler did not suffer any political or legal consequences as a result of the investigation.
In 2007 -- 23 years after the carnage -- the CBI submitted to the trial court a Final Report claiming that there was not sufficient evidence to warrant Tytler’s prosecution. When it was contended by some members of the Sikh community that the CBI had not examined an eye-witness living in the United States, a sessions court rejected the FR and ordered the agency to further investigate the case and record the statement of the eye-witness.
After doing so, the CBI submitted another FR in 2009, claiming there was still not enough evidence to warrant the prosecution of Tytler. The court accepted the FR this time and the case against Tytler was sought to be closed once and for all.
The Outlook report has quoted Indian Express journalist Ritu Sarin as saying that two senior officers of the CBI had recommended that the investigation should be completed and all the evidence put up before a court in the form of a chargesheet against Tytler. It should be left to the court to decide whether the evidence is sufficient to convict Tytler.
According to the magazine, Ashwani Kumar, the CBI’s director between August 2008 and November 2010, rejected their recommendation and ordered the submission of an FR once again, stating there was not sufficient evidence to warrant the prosecution of Tytler. This was done.
After his retirement, Ashwani Kumar was appointed as the governor of Nagaland. This appointment has attracted criticism from the media, which has pointed out that the move seemed like a quid pro quo for his decisions favouring the central government when he held office.
Following complaints by sections of the Sikh community -- that there are other eye-witnesses living in the US who had not been questioned by the CBI before submitting an FR in 2009 -- a sessions court has ordered further investigation of the charges against Tytler by the CBI.
With some functionaries of the Congress allegedly playing an active role in orchestrating the carnage, this case has illustrated the cover-up culture of the Congress, which pushed under the carpet complaints of inaction by the Delhi police and then sought to distort the CBI investigation to ensure that no party leader suffered adverse consequences due to it.
A clean chit was twice sought to be given to Tytler on the basis of an incomplete investigation. He continues to be an important member of the Congress, defended and protected by senior leaders of the party, and he roams around as a free man, giving several interviews to TV channels to discredit the witnesses against him.
In the years since 1984, the credibility of the CBI as the premier investigating agency of the government has repeatedly taken a beating.
The entire investigation process stands discredited at political and professional levels and hardly anyone takes the CBI seriously
If the credibility of our criminal justice system has to be restored and if we have to win the confidence of the Sikh community, it is important that further investigation against Tytler be done in a time-bound manner by a special investigation team which reports directly to the court.
We have failed to do justice to our Sikh community for nearly three decades after the carnage. It is time to end this government-sponsored charade of investigation and identify and punish the guilty.