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1984 Sikh Massacres: Ten Commissions, Panels

The following list excludes the N.G.O. commissions, for example those set up under Dr. Rajni Kothari, former Supreme Court Justice V.M. Tarkunde, and former Supreme Court Chief Justice S.M. Sikri.

The Tribune, New Delhi, Aug. 9, 2005

Photo: Jagdish Tytler

Since the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that followed the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in which over 3,000 persons were killed, the government had appointed 10 commissions and committees to inquire into the incident. However, the victims claim that none of those who perpetrated the crime and instigated the mob have been punished.

Here is a chronology of different committees and commissions, which the government has set up from time to time and their results.

1. The Marwah 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 the 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.

2. The Misra Commission of Enquiry was appointed in May 1985. Justice Ranganath 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.

3. The 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 U.P. 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.

4. The Jain Banerjee Committee was recommended by the Misra Commission for recommending registrations of cases. It consisted of Justice M.L. Jain, former Judge of the Delhi High Court and Mr. A.K. Banerjee, retired I.G.P. 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.

5. The Potti Rosha Committee was appointed in March 1990 as a successor to the Jain Banerjee Committee. This committee also recommended registration of cases against Sajjan Kumar.

6. The Jain Aggarwal 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 D.G.P. of U.P. This committee recommended registration of cases against H.K.L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar, Dharamdas Shastri and Jagdish Tytler. This committee was wound up in August 1993. However, the cases recommended by this committee were not even registered by the police.

7. The 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.

8. The 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 that 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.

9. The Narula Committee was appointed in December 1993 by the Madan Lal Khurana government in Delhi. This committee submitted its report in January 1994 and recommended registration of cases against Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler.

10. The 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 report said there was 'credible evidence' against the now Union Minister Jagdish Tytler that he 'very probably' had a hand in organising attacks on Sikhs and recommended to the government to take further action as may be found necessary. The A.T.R. [Action Taken Report, prepared by the Congress government in response to the Nanavati report], while exonerating Mr. Tytler, said, 'a person cannot be prosecuted simply on the basis of probabilities.'