HC seeks SIT's reply on 1984 riot convict's sentence suspension plea

The SIT is investigating nearly 60 cases related to the riots, while it has filed "untraced report" in 52 cases.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has sought Special Investigation Team's (SIT) response on a plea by a convict, who was awarded life term in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, who has interim suspension of his sentence on medical ground.

It asked the jail superintendent to give a report on the convict Naresh Sehrawat's medical condition. It asked the (SIT) and the state to respond to the convict's plea in which he claimed that his liver was 90 per cent damaged and sought interim suspension of the sentence. The SIT has been asked to verify the documents given by Sehrawat in support of his medical condition.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on May 1. A trial court had awarded life term to Sherawat in a case related to the killing of two men in New Delhi during the 1984 riots -- the first convictions in the cases reopened by the SIT. It had also awarded capital punishment to co-convict Yashpal Singh in the case.

The appeals of both the convicts, against their conviction and sentence by the trial court as well as the death reference of Yashpal, are pending in the high court. The court had earlier issued notice to Yashpal on the reference to confirm his death sentence. 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 Sherawat the gallows on medical grounds. The trial court had convicted Yashpal and Sherawat 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.

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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