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Failure of Commissions into the Anti-Sikh Pogroms

Numerous commissions have been setup to investigate the riots, however, many of the primary accused were acquitted or never charge-sheeted. Ten commissions and committees have till now inquired into the riots. The most recent commission on the riots, headed by Justice G.T. Nanavati submitted its 185-page report to the Home Minister, Shivraj Patil on February 9, 2005 and the report was tabled in Parliament on August 8, 2005. The commisions below are listed in the order they were formed.

Marwah Commission
This commission was appointed in November 1984. Ved Marwah, Additional Commissioner of Police, was assigned the job of enquiring into the role of the police during the carnage of November 1984. Mr Marwah almost completed his inquiry towards the middle of 1985 when he was directed by the Central Government not to proceed further as Misra Commission had been appointed by then. Complete records of the Marwah Commission were taken over by the government and were later transferred to the Misra Commission. However, the most important part of the record, namely the handwritten notes of Mr Marwah, which contained important information, were not transferred to the Misra Commission.

Misra Commission of Enquiry
Misra commission was appointed in May 1985. Justice Rangnath Misra, was a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India. Justice Misra submitted his report in August 1986 and the report was made public six months thereafter in February 1987. In his report, Justice Misra stated that it was not part of his terms of reference to identify any person and recommended the formation of three committees. There was only one term of reference to this commission, i.e. whether the violence was organised? The commission and its report has been heavily criticized as biased and a miscarriage of justice.

Kapur Mittal Committee
Kapur Mittal Committee was appointed in February 1987 on the recommendation of the Misra Commission to inquire into the role of the police, which the Marwah Commission had almost completed in 1985 itself, when the government asked that committee to wind up and not proceed further. After almost two years, this committee was appointed for the same purpose. This committee consisted of Justice Dalip Kapur and Mrs Kusum Mittal, retired Secretary of Uttar Pradesh. It submitted its report in 1990. Seventy-two police officers were identified for their connivance or gross negligence. The committee recommended forthwith dismissal of 30 police officers out of 72. However, till date, not a single police officer has been awarded any kind of punishment.

Jain Banerjee Committee
This committee was recommended by the Misra Commission for recommending registration of cases. It consisted of Justice M.L. Jain, former Judge of the Delhi High Court and Mr A.K. Banerjee, retired Inspector General of Police. The Misra Commission held in its report that a large number of cases had not been registered and wherever the victims named political leaders or police officers, cases were not registered against them. This committee recommended registration of cases against Mr Sajjan Kumar in August 1987, but no case was registered. In November 1987 many press reports appeared for not registering cases in spite of the recommendation of the committee. In December 1987, one of the co-accused along with Sajjan Kumar, namely Mr Brahmanand Gupta filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court and obtained a stay against this committee. The government did not oppose the stay. The Citizens Justice Committee filed an application for vacating the stay. Ultimately, the writ petition was decided in August 1989 and the high court quashed the appointment of this committee. An appeal was filed by the Citizens Justice Committee in the Supreme Court of India.

Potti Rosha Committee
Potti Rosha Committee was appointed in March 1990, by the V.P. Singh government, as a successor to the Jain Banerjee Committee. In August 1990, Potti-Rosha issued recommendations for filing cases based on affidavits victims of the violence had submitted. There was one against Sajjan Kumar. A CBI team went to Kumar's home to file the charges; his supporters locked them up and threatened them harm if they persisted in their designs on their leader. As a result of this intimidation, when Potti-Rosha's term expired in September 1990, Potti and Rosha decided to disband their inquiry.

Jain Aggarwal Committee
The committee was appointed in December 1990 as a successor to the Potti Rosha Committee. It consisted of Justice J.D. Jain, retired Judge of the Delhi High Court and Mr D.K. Aggarwal, retired DGP of Uttar Pradesh. This committee recommended registration of cases against H.K.L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar, Dharamdas Shastri and Jagdish Tytler. The Committee also suggested setting up of two - three Special Investigating Teams in the Delhi Police under a Deputy Commissioner of Police and the overall supervision by the Additional Commissioner of Police, In-charge - CID and also to review the work-load of the three Special Courts set up to deal with October - November, 1984 riots cases exclusively so that these cases could be taken up on day- to-day basis. The question of appointment of Special Prosecutors to deal with October - November 1984 riots cases exclusively was also discussed. This committee was wound up in August 1993. However, the cases recommended by this committee were not even registered by the police.

Ahuja Committee
Ahuja Committee was the third committee recommended by the Misra Commission to ascertain the total number of killings in Delhi. This committee submitted its report in August 1987 and gave a figure of 2,733 as the number of Sikhs killed in Delhi alone.

Dhillon Committee
Dhillon Committee headed by Mr Gurdial Singh Dhillon was appointed in 1985 to recommend measures for the rehabilitation of the victims. This committee submitted its report by the end of 1985. One of the major recommendations of this Committee was that the business establishments, which had insurance cover, but whose insurance claims were not settled by insurance companies on the technical ground that riot was not covered under insurance, should be paid compensation under the directions of the government. This committee recommended that since all insurance companies were nationalised, they be directed to pay the claims. However, the government did not accept this recommendation and as a result insurance claims were rejected by all insurance companies throughout the country.

Narula Committee
Narula Committee was appointed in December 1993 by the Madan Lal Khurana government in Delhi. One of the recommendations of Narula Committee was to impress upon the Central Government to grant sanction in this matter. [[|Madan Lal Khurana|Mr. Khurana]] took up the matter with the Central Government and in the middle of 1994, the Central Government decided that the matter does not fall within its purview and sent the case to the Lt. Governor of Delhi. It took two years for the Narasimha Rao Government to decide that it does not fall within Centre's purview in a case of this nature, where 4,000 of Sikhs were massacred. As if 8 years of delay in filing the charge sheet was not enough, Narasimha Rao Government further decided to sleep over the matter to ensure that delay should kill the matter itself. This committee submitted its report in January 1994 and recommended registration of cases against H.K.L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler. Ultimately, due to delay by the Central government, the CBI was able to file the charge sheet in December 1994.

The Nanavati Commission
Nanavati Commission was appointed by a unanimous resolution passed in the Rajya Sabha. This commission was headed by Justice G.T. Nanavati, retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India. The commission submitted its report in February 2004. The Commission claimed evidence against congressmen Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and H.K.L. Bhagat for instigating the mobs to violence. The Commission also held the then police commissioner S.C. Tandon directly responsible for the riots. There was widespread protest against the report as it did not mention clearly the role of
Tytler and other Congressmen in the riots. It finally led to the resignation of Jagdish Tytler from the Union Cabinet. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also apologised to the Sikhs for the riots, few days after the report was tabled in the Parliament. The ATR report, while exonerating Mr Tytler, said, “a person cannot be prosecuted simply on the basis of probabilities.”

20 Years on and STILL NO JUSTICE

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