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1984 riots: HC seeks Centre's reply on plea by convict challenging legality of SIT

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Delhi High Court has sought the Centre's response on a plea by one of the convicts in 1984 anti-Sikh riots challenging the legality of the Home Ministry's order for setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to reprobe the cases.
A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and I S Mehta issued notice to the Union of India through the Secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs and listed the matter for further hearing on September 30.
The legality of the SIT has been challenged by convict Yashpal Singh who was sentenced to death penalty by a trial court in a 1984 anti-Sikh riot case which was reopened by the SIT.
In his plea, he has claimed that the Executive cannot order re-investigation and it can only be done by the court's direction.
The court, in its order, said: "In view of the challenge mounted on behalf of Yashpal Singh to the legality and validity of the order dated February 12, 2015, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, it is considered proper and necessary to issue notice to the Union of India through the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India."

Central Government Standing Counsel Akshay Makhija appeared for the government and sought time to obtain instructions on the issue.
The court directed the registry to provide a copy of the death sentence reference paper book to him forthwith.
The court was hearing the death reference as well as the appeal of Singh against the capital punishment awarded to him.
The trial court had also awarded life term to co-convict Naresh Sherawat in the case relating to the killing of two men in New Delhi during the 1984 riots -- the first convictions in the cases reopened by the SIT.
Sherawat has also appealed against his conviction and the sentence before the high court which has sought response of the police in the plea.
Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994 for want of evidence, but it was reopened by the SIT.
The SIT is investigating nearly 60 cases related to the riots, while it has filed "untraced report" in 52 cases.
While this was the first death penalty after the SIT was formed, one Kishori was earlier given the death penalty by a trial court in as many as seven anti-Sikh riots cases.
However, the Delhi High Court confirmed death penalty only in three cases, which were later commuted to life term by the apex court.
As per the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the death penalty cannot be executed unless confirmed by the high court.
The trial court had awarded varying jail terms to the convicts and imposed fines for offences including attempt to murder, dacoity and attacking victims by dangerous weapons. It had spared convict Sherawat the gallows on medical grounds.
Earlier, the trial court had convicted Yashpal and Sherawat for killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh in Mahipalpur area of South Delhi on November 1, 1984 during the riots that had taken place after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at her residence by two Sikh bodyguards a day before.
The case was lodged on a complaint by victim Hardev's brother Santokh Singh.
The trial court had held both the accused guilty for the offences of murder, attempt to murder, dacoity and voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means under the IPC.
A mob of about 500 persons, led by the two convicts, had encircled the house of the victims and had killed them. It was just one of the incidents out of several others Delhi alone witnessed during the riots that saw around 3,000 people being killed.
Of the 650 cases registered in connection with the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, 267 were closed as untraced by the Delhi Police. Of these 267 cases, five were later taken up by the CBI. The SIT also scrutinised records of 18 cancelled cases.

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First Published: Sep 27 2019 | 8:15 PM IST

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