Jain Aggarwal Report :Delhi Riots – 1984
I N D E X
SETTING UP OF TWO COMMITTEES AS A FOLLOW-UP OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF JUSTICE RANGANATH MISRA OF INQUIRY
RE-CONSTITUTION OF THE COMMITTEE WITH THE APPOINTMENT OF SHRI JUSTICE P. SUBRAMANIUM POTI & SHRI P. A. ROSHA AS CHAIRMAN & MEMBER
APPOINTMENT OF JUSTICE J. D. JAIN & SHRI D. K. AGGARWAL COMMITTEE
The official death toll of the carnage is 2,733 but the number of deaths covered by the cases registered in the immediate aftermath was only 1,419. This shows that the police Much as it vehemently rejected their contention that the carnage was politically organised, the Misra Commission conceded the grievance of the victims that the police either failed to register cases or did faulty investigation. The Commission accordingly recommended a committee to redress this grievance. But, as it happened, the Government appointed three successive committees on the basis of this recommendation and each one of them ended up disproving the Misra Commission’s finding that no Congress leaders were involved in the carnage.
The Jain-Banerjee committee, which was the first in this series to be appointed in February 1987, instructed the police to register a murder case against former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar for allegedly leading a mob which killed one Navin Singh in Sultanpuri during the carnage. But one of the co-accused, Brahmanand Gupta, obtained a stay from the Delhi high court on the committee’s recommendations. In October 1989, the high court upheld Gupta’s petition and quashed the notification constituting the committee. It ruled that the power conferred on the Jain-Banerjee committee to monitor investigation of cases and direct registration of cases amounted to interference with police investigations.
In March 1990, the Delhi Administration appointed a fresh committee without the legal defect pointed out by the high court. The Poti-Rosha committee on its part recommended action on some 30 affidavits, including a case against Sajjan Kumar once again. When a CBI team tried to arrest him, they were themselves locked up in his house till his lawyer, R.K. Anand (now a Congress MP) obtained “anticipatory bail” from the high court. Poti and Rosha subsequently quit the committee when their six-month term expired but they had by then put in place a system of dealing with the laborious task of ascertaining whether the police had probed all the complaints of the victims.
That is how a third committee comprising Justice J.D. Jain and D.K. Aggarwal came to be formed and it quickly got into the act of plowing through the 1,000-odd affidavits filed at various stages by the victims. That is how, after much delay and hesitation, some more cases came to be registered against Sajjan Kumar and some for the first time even against H.K.L. Bhagat who was then regarded as the foremost Congress leader in Delhi.
But there was only so much the Jain-Aggarwal committee could do to take action against anybody; the rest was left to the vagaries of the prosecution and judicial system. This meant that not even five per cent of the cases have resulted in convictions, that too mostly on minor offences like rioting and violation of curfew orders. Needless to add, none of the Congress leaders accused of organising the violence is among the convicted persons.
At the end of its term in 1993, the Jain-Aggarwal committee on its own initiative submitted a report containing an incisive analysis of the various illegalities and irregularities committed by the police and prosecution to scuttle the carnage cases.
Some of the police illegalities highlighted by the Jain-Aggarwal Committee report are:
(1) Omnibus FIRs: Instead of registering a separate case on the complaint of each victim, the police registered a vague and generally worded omnibus FIR purportedly covering all the offences that took place in a given locality. The reports of the victims were treated as statements recorded under the omnibus FIR. But since the FIR itself contained no specific information, much less the names of the accused persons, whatever chargesheets were filed under it ended mostly time in acquittals.
(2) Solitary witnesses: In most of the cases, the police cited only one eye witness, the witness herself. This despite the fact that the bulk of the killings took place in congested localities and they could easily have produced any number of similarly affected victims in the immediate neighbourhood as other eye witnesses. In the absence of such corroborative evidence the courts were constrained to acquit the accused in many cases.
(3) Untraced cases: The police closed over 300 cases out of 700 cases as “untraced,” meaning the whereabouts of the culprits could not be found out. This happened partly because of the police announcement in the aftermath of the carnage that if the looted property was quietly surrendered, the culprits will not be prosecuted. The properties thus returned could not be cited as evidence because they were not in the prescribed manner recovered from the possession of the accused persons.
(4) Deletion of the names of important persons: Whenever the complainants cited the names of some police officials, influential persons or political bigwigs as accused, the police either declined to receive such reports or recorded the same without mentioning the names.
To its credit, the Jain-Aggarwal Committee also gave graphic illustrations of the manner in which the police subverted cases. It also indicted individual officials for non-registration of cases or faulty investigations.