The administrator of the Union Territory of Delhi vide his order No. F.1/PS/HS/87/1226 dated 23rd February, 1987, appointed a two-member Committee to conduct an inquiry with the following terms of reference:
Appointment of the Committee
(i) “Whereas a number of deaths occurred and a number of grave offences were committed in various incidents of rioting following the assassination of the late Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi, on 31.10.1984.”
(ii) “Whereas it is reported that there was total passivity, callousness and indifference of the Police in the matter of controlling the situation and protecting the people within the Union Terrritory.”
(iii) “Now, therefore, the Administrator of Delhi hereby appoints a Committee consisting of Justice Dalip K. Kapur, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and Kumari Kusum Lata Mittal, retired Secretary to the Government of India, to conduct enquiries with the following terms of reference:
(a) Enquire into delinquencies of individual police officers and men with respect to matters referred to in paragraph (ii) above and also good conduct of individual police officers and men and recommend such action as may be called for;
(b) Any other matter related to the above.” (Annex. I).
2 This Inquiry Committee was set up as a direct sequel to the recommendations of the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission of Inquiry (which was set up by the Government of India). The Commission enquired into the allegations of organized violence following the assassination of the late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi on 31st October 1984. A general indictment of the Delhi Police for their role during the riots had already been done by this Commission. Some of the relevant observations of the Commission are reproduced below: -
“ There is abundant evidence before the Commission that the police on the whole did not behave properly and failed to act as a professional force. Telephone No. 100 which is meant for notifying for police assistance did not respond at all during that period. The police stations when contacted on telephone ordinarily did not respond and if there was any response it was a plea of inability to assist. The behaviour of most policemen was shabby in the sense that they allowed people to be killed, houses to be burnt, property to be looted, and ladies to be dragged and misbehaved within their very presence. Their plea was that they were a few and could not meet the unruly-armed mob usually of hundreds or thousands. Some senior police officers had taken the stand that the community was in frenzy and to meet the cruel mob greater strength of force was necessary. Obviously, the police could not expect that their number had to be equal to that of the miscreants. A professional police force by its expertise, experience and training was expected to meet any challenge and was not to seek cover under an umbrella of excuses based upon instructions in archaic Police Rules. Has any hero been heard of opening his scriptures when he suddenly meets a challenge to his life?
“ Several instances have come to be narrated where police personnel in uniform were found marching behind, or mingled in the crowd. Since they did not make any attempt to stop the mob from indulging in criminal acts, an inference has been drawn that they were part of the mob had the common intention and purpose. Some instances, though few in number, have also been noticed where policemen in uniform have participated in Looting… “There is some force in the allegations of DSGMC that the police had no business to change the method of recovery of stolen goods. Ordinarily, the place where stolen articles are stored – be it a house or some other place – is searched, recoveries of identified articles are made, and on the basis of such recoveries prosecution is launched and the possession of identified stolen property constitutes good evidence for the offences punishable under sections 411 and 412, IPC and provides a presumptive link for the offence. During the riots, the police instead of following this known method, adopted a novel one of inviting the culprits to pile up the stolen articles in the open, near the houses from where the removal had been made. By this process, the best evidence linking the accused with the offence vanished. Very often, as alleged, they were taken away from there by others and even by policemen. Since the Commission has not been told the justification for the adoption of this novel and uncanny procedure, the suggestion of the victims that this procedure helped misappropriation of some of the articles cannot be ruled out. The Commission, has, however, no intention to act on surmises and leave this aspect to be taken up in the inquiry against the police officers as recommended by. It.”
3. The Commission was of the definite opinion that a proper inquiry should be undertaken because such a probe was in the interest of the police a force as also the Administration. The black sheep could be identified and suitably dealt with. The dutiful officers should be commended. The Defects can be found out and remedied. The morale of the police, as a disciplined and professional force can be streamlined on the basis of the results of the inquiry.
Accommodation and Supporting Staff
4. At its inception, the Committee faced problems of supporting staff and accommodation. In the initial stages, the Committee was accommodated for a few days in Vigyan Bhawan Annexe. However, the Committee was asked to Shift to Vikas Minar (DDA Building) mas the accommodation in Vigyan Bhavan was required for some other purpose. The staff was sanctioned in the middle of April, 1987 and it took another 4 months for the full complement of the staff to be in position. Hence the Committee became effective only in July 1987.
The Procedure adopted
5. The Committee had not been vested with any legal powers. A reference was, therefore, made in March 1987 requesting the Government to vest the Committee with powers u/s 11 of the Commission of Inquiry Act so that the Committee could be more effective. This was, however, not agreed to and the Committee therefore, remained purely an Administrative Committee. The Committee was further informed that while the records of the Misra Commission could be available to the Committee, they were not to be quoted or published without clearance of Government.
Poor response to the Public Notices
6. Keeping in view the legal and administrative parameters within which the Committee had to function, the Committee decided to issue a public notice inviting statements/affidavits from persons acquainted with the subject matter of the inquiry. This public notice was published in some of the leading newspapers of Delhi in the middle of June 1987 and was repeated towards the end of June, 1987. The text of the public notice issued is given ion Annexure-II. About 350 affidavits were received by the Committee by the middle of August. 1987. On an analysis it was found that a majority of the affidavits were for claims for losses suffered by the Sikhs and only a few were relevant to the subject matter of the inquiry.
Collection of Records
7. The records of the Misra Commission were meanwhile obtained as also the records and documents from the office of the e Commissioner of Police. Shri V.P. Marwah, Commissioner of Police, Delhi, had earlier started an inquiry of a similar nature but this had been subsequently given up. These records also were obtained from the Police Commissioner’s Office as Shri Marwah had collected substantial information relevant for the task given to the Committee.
8. The affidavits received from the general public in response to the public notice issued by the Committee, were few in number. This was perhaps because of lapse of time and fear of the local police. As such, the Government was again approached in August, 1987, to reconsider its earlier decision and to allow the Committee to fully utilize the records of the Commission without prior clearance for every individual document. Without this clearance it was difficult for the Committee to do justice to the job assigned to it (the Committee). The Ministry of Home affairs by their d.o. Letter no. U.13034/13/87-Delhi dated 8.1.1988 finally gave its clearance subject to the usual conditions regarding utilization of such affidavits.
Organizational set-up of Delhi Police
9. The Commissioner of Police heads the Police organization in the Union Territory of Delhi under the overall superintendence of the Administrator of Delhi. At the relevant time, Delhi was divided into 2 Police Ranges each under the charge and supervision of an Addl. Police Commissioner. The Ranges were further divided into Districts each under the charge of a Deputy Commissioner of Police. There were 6 Districts and each Rangs had 3 Districts under its jurisdictional control. The organizational set-up of Delhi Police and the names of officers holding these positions are annexed to this Report as Annexure III.
10. Scrutiny of Delhi Range has been taken up first, comprising of Central, North and East Districts which were under the charge of Shri H.C.Jatav, the then Additional Commissioner of Police. Thereafter, scrutiny of the remaining 3 districts in New Delhi Range, namely New Delhi, West and South Districts, has been undertaken which were under the charge of Shri Gautam Kaul, the then Additional Commissioner of Police. The role of the Delhi Railway Police and the Delhi Armed police has then been scrutinized followed by the supervisory role of the Commissioner of Police Shri Subhash Tandon. Some general conclusions have been arrived at in the end keeping in view the shortcomings of the existing structure of the Delhi Police and the fact that Delhi serves as the nerve center for the country.