Court puts Tytler back in the dock


Setting aside a 2010 order which had accepted a closure report in an anti-Sikh riots case with a CBI clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, a Delhi court on Wednesday directed the agency to reopen investigation into the death of three persons and destruction at the Gurudwara Pul Bangash during the 1984 riots following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

In April 2010, a trial court had accepted the closure report in which the CBI claimed it had been unable to find any evidence against Tytler. The agency had named 43 witnesses and said not one had been able to confirm Tytler's presence at the Gurudwara Pul Bangash on November 1, 1984.

But Lokender alias Lakhvinder Kaur, widow of one of the men killed in the attack on the gurudwara, filed a revision petition against the closure report, claiming that the CBI had failed to examine certain witnesses who had seen Tytler at the scene of the crime.

Additional Sessions Judge Anuradha Shukla Bhardwaj, while setting aside the 2010 order on Wednesday, reprimanded the CBI for not recording the statements of all available witnesses. "Non-examination of these persons by the CBI was improper," the court said.

"CBI is directed to conduct further investigation... and to record the statements of witnesses, who it had come to know during the investigation itself, are claiming/shown/named to be the eyewitnesses of the incident," Bhardwaj said.

She dismissed the CBI plea that the witnesses had come forward at a later stage and had not given statements to the police or commissions of inquiry. She cited a Delhi High Court observation on "the state of the country as it was then" for the reticence of the witnesses.

Senior advocate H S Phoolka, representing petitioner Lakhvinder Kaur, argued that four men — Santokh Singh, Alam Singh, Chanchal Singh and Resham Singh — claimed to have been present at the time of the attack, and had also been mentioned in the statement made by Surender Singh whose statement had been recorded by the CBI.

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