The Supreme Court on Friday asked the NCT Government and Delhi Police to respond to petitions filed by 33 accused challenging a Delhi High Court verdict sentencing them to five-year jail term after holding them guilty in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.
Almost 3,000 people were killed—most of them in Delhi—in the riots that broke out following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. The instant case related to riots in Trilokpuri between October 31 and November 3 in 1984.
The accused were convicted of rioting, burning houses and violation of curfew in Trilokpuri area of the national capital during the riots.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi—which had earlier issued notices to the Delhi Government and Delhi Police—gave them further time till July 23 to file their response after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Delhi Police, sought more time for filing the reply.
These appeals were filed after the Supreme Court on April 30 acquitted 15 of the accused convicted in the case and awarded five-year jail terms for offences of rioting, burning houses and violation of curfew in East Delhi’s Trilokpuri’s area.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had allowed five appeals filed by 15 convicts challenging the Delhi High Court’s verdict of November 28, 2018, which upheld a trial court verdict convicting the accused. The Bench—which also included Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna—had said there was no direct evidence against these accused and they were not identified by witnesses.
Earlier, the apex court had issued notices to the authorities on the appeals of 34 persons against the HC order upholding the trial court verdict to convict them. One of the appellants died recently in jail.
They have sought acquittal on various ground of parity with the co-convicts acquitted by the top court on April 30.
The Delhi High Court had upheld the August 27, 1996, decision of the trial court convicting them of rioting and arson in November last year.
Police had recovered 95 dead bodies from Trilokpuri—one of the worst affected areas of Delhi in the riots that saw more than 100 Sikh houses set ablaze. But charges of murder could not be brought against any of the 80 accused.
The high court had upheld the conviction of 70 out of the 89 people who were awarded five-year jail terms by a trial court for rioting, burning houses and violation of curfew during the riots. Of the remaining 19 accused, 16 died while appeals against the trial court’s verdict were still pending. The appeals of the three others were dismissed after they absconded.