The G T Nanavati Commission, which probed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, has said that there is "credible evidence" against now Union Minister Jagdish Tytler that he "very probably" had a hand in organising attacks on Sikhs, and recommended the government to take further action as may be found necessary.
The Commission, in its report tabled in both Houses of Parliament on Monday along with the government’s action taken report, also noted that "there was credible material" against Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar (now member of Parliament) and Balwan Khokhar that they were "probably involved as alleged by witnesses".
However, the ATR observed that it was clear from the "very probably" against Tytler remark that the one-man panel itself was not absolutely sure about his involvement in the attacks. The ATR observed "it may be pointed out that in criminal cases, a person cannot be prosecuted simply on the basis of probability".
The incidents regarding arson and looting in the riots that followed the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi in area under police station Bara Hindu Rao in the capital, burning of Gurdawara Pul Bangash and the killing of Thakur Singh and Badal Singh on October 31 and November 1, 1984, were investigated.
The Commission, set up by the erstwhile Natonal Democratic Alliance government, also recommended the examination of only those cases where the witnesses had accused Congress leader Sajjan Kumar specifically. Yet, no chargesheets were filed against him and the cases were terminated as untraced, the Commission observed.
Home Minister Shivraj Patil tabled the report in the Lok Sabha while Minister of State for Home Affairs S Reghupathy tabled it in the Rajya Sabha.
With regard to Tytler’s case, the ATR said on completion of investigation, nine challans were filed in which 14 persons were accused and ten were cited as prosecution witnesses. After completion of the trial, 13 of the accused persons were convicted and one was declared as proclaimed offender by the court.
In another case, a court acquitted all 31 accused persons and Tytler was not named as an accused.
"In view of the fact that the Commission itself is not certain that Tytler had a role in organising the attacks on Sikhs and in the context of judicial verdicts on the incidents mentioned in the Commission’s report, any further action will not be justified," the ATR said.
So far as the then Lt Governor P G Gavai was concerned, the report said the explanation given by him was "not satisfactory and does not convince the Commission in recording the finding that there was no lapse at his level."Though he does not appear to have delayed taking of required actions, it does not appear to the Commission that he did not give as much importance to the law and order situation in Delhi as the situation demanded," the report said.
It further said, "he (Gavai) was the person responsible for maintenance of law and order in Delhi and, therefore, he cannot escape the responsibility for its failure".
The ATR observed that "the government had taken immediate administrative action. Gavai was replaced by M M K Wali as LG of Delhi on November 4, 1984".
With regard to S C Tandon, who was then the police commissioner and was directly responsible for maintenance of law and order in Delhi, the Commission said, "it is no explanation to say that he was not properly informed by his subordinates. It was his duty and responsibility to remain aware of what was going on in Delhi during those days and to take prompt and effective steps. He should have known that the policemen on the spot were ineffective and despite the curfew, mobs indulging in violence were moving freely and were committing acts of looting and killing freely."
The ATR said the government had taken serious note of the observations of the panel and would take necessary action to ensure better leadership qualities among senior officers.
"Tandon was replaced on November 12, 1984 and he has since retired. As mentioned earlier, there are legal difficulties in taking departmental action against retired government servants," the ATR said, adding, "however, the government would examine this matter further in consultation with the Ministry of Law for appropriate action".
The Commission agreed with the findings of Justice Mishra Commission as regards the "delay in calling the army" as also its recommendations for preventing the occurrence of such incidents again. The panel said it would, however, "like to recommend that such riots are kept under check and control and there should be an independent police force which is free from political influence and which is well equipped to take immediate and effective action."
It maintained that the government should take steps at the earliest to see that all complaints were properly recorded and investigated by independent Investigating Officers. To this, the ATR said, "the government accepts these views of the Commission. Accordingly, state governments, union territory administrations and the Delhi police will be advised to take necessary action."