Wednesday, May 29, 2019

HC orders day-to-day hearing in a death sentence case of 1984 riots (New Delhi)

PTI | Apr 1, 2019, 06.44 PM IST 

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court has ordered day-to-day hearing in the death reference as also the convict's appeal against the capital punishment awarded to him in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Manoj Kumar Ohri said the appeal and the death reference of convict Yashpal Singh would be heard on daily basis till the conclusion of arguments. "List for hearing on April 22. It is made clear that the hearing of the connected appeal and death reference shall be conducted on day to day basis till the conclusion of the arguments," the bench said in a recent order. The court had earlier sought response of the police on Yashpal's plea challenging his death sentence in the case. He has filed the appeal against his conviction and sentence by a trial court here. 

He has also filed a bail plea in the matter. The bench had also issued notice to Yashpal on the reference to confirm his death sentence. The trial court had also awarded life term to co-convict Naresh Sherawat in the case relating to the killing of two men in New Delhi during the 1984 riots -- the first convictions in the cases reopened by the Special Investigation Team (SIT). Naresh has also appealed against his conviction and sentence before the high court which has sought response of the police in the plea. The Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994 for want of evidence, but it was reopened by the SIT. The SIT is investigating nearly 60 cases related to the riots, while it has filed "untraced report" in 52 cases. While this was the first death penalty after the SIT was formed, one Kishori was earlier given the death penalty by a trial court in as many as seven anti-Sikh riots cases. However, the Delhi high court confirmed death penalty only in three cases, which were later commuted to life term by the apex court. 

As per the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the death penalty cannot be executed unless confirmed by the high court. The trial court had awarded varying jail terms to the convicts and imposed fines for offences including attempt to murder, dacoity and attacking victims by dangerous weapons. It had spared convict Naresh the gallows on medical grounds. Earlier, the trial court had convicted Yashpal and Naresh for killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh in Mahipalpur area of South Delhi on November 1, 1984 during the riots that had taken place after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at her residence by two Sikh bodyguards a day before. The case was lodged on a complaint by victim Hardev's brother Santokh Singh. 

The trial court had held both the accused guilty for the offences of murder, attempt to murder, dacoity and voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means under the IPC. A mob of about 500 persons, led by the two convicts, had encircled the house of the victims and had killed them. It was just one of the incidents out of several others Delhi alone witnessed during the riots that saw around 3,000 people being killed. Of the 650 cases registered in connection with the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, 267 were closed as untraced by the Delhi Police. Of these 267 cases, five were later taken up by the CBI. The SIT also scrutinised records of 18 cancelled cases.

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