NEW DELHI: Government officials who neglect their duties and shut their eyes on rioters should be declared an accessory to violence, former Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court Justice Anil Dev Singh said on the 32nd anniversary of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom.
Speaking at a panel discussion on “The legal aftermath of 1984 and the way forward” organised by the Sikh Forum to commemorate the riots, Justice Singh, who had enhanced the compensation to the riot victims during his tenure as a judge in the Delhi High Court in 1996, also termed “unfortunate” that witnesses of the massacre were not given any protection.
“There is a need to strike terror in the perpetrators and they must be punished,” he said. Expressing similar views, senior advocate HS Phoolka said, “We will not give up till we bring the perpetrators to book and will fight for justice so that no political leader misuses his powers. No one is above the country and its laws.”
The senior advocate also said that the massacre cannot be forgotten as similar riots have been repeated in later years as the perpetrators have gone unpunished.
Urging for a stringent law to hold officials responsible for acts of violence, senior advocate Vrinda Grover said, “Public servants commit crimes but due to the loopholes in the system, they are not held liable.” Grover, a human rights lawyer, also called for an alliance cutting across communities to push the government for an Act that holds public servants accountable for their negligence during such situations.
Throwing light on the CBI’s apathy, Justice Singh and Phoolka said there have been shortcomings on its part and called for an independent and fast-track probe.
“We can ask the government to create a commission for prevention of riots and an independent probe into the anti-Sikh pogrom. The 1984 riots cases should be tried in special fast-track courts and properties of political leaders involved in the massacre, who think their careers are sealed, should be confiscated,” the former judge said.
Phoolka pointed out the CBI’s lapse in a case against former MP and accused Sajjan Kumar in which a chargesheet against him for murder never reached the court.