Court postpones hearing on Tytler amid Sikh protests (Third Lead)

April 9th, 2009 - 9:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) As Sikhs held vociferous protests and shouted slogans outside, a city court Thursday deferred to April 28 the hearing of a case on Congress leader Jagdish Tytler’s alleged involvement in the 1984 anti-sikh violence.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Rakesh Pandit said the matter will be heard on April 28 and 29 after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said that the court has no jurisdiction because the offence made out was that of murder - which is in the exclusive jurisdiction of a sessions court.

CBI special public prosecutor Virender Kumar cited an apex court judgement during his arguments that the case should be heard by a court of sessions. He said: “We have already filed a charge sheet against the other accused, Suresh Kumar Paniwala, in this case and the court should take cognisance of it and refer the matter to a sessions court.”

When the court wanted to know about Tytler’s whereabouts during the time of the attacks on Sikhs in 1984, the CBI counsel said the Congress leader was not present at the time of the incident that followed the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on Oct 31, 1984.

“Tytler was not present at Gurudwara Pul Bangash as he was at Teen Murti Bhawan, beside the body of Indira Gandhi,” counsel said.

“We have already filed a closure report (regarding Tytler) after recording evidence of two witnesses. There is no sufficient evidence against him,” counsel said.

As the proceedings at the Karkardooma court in east Delhi were on, Sikh protesters outside burnt effigies of Tytler and shouted slogans against him. They demanded harsh punishment for those guilty of the mayhem, in which 3,000 Sikhs, including over 2,000 in Delhi alone, were allegedly killed.

A woman protester tried to climb over the fencing outside the court complex, as the police stood watching helplessly.

“The perpetrators of the riots should be brought to book. The court is our last hope. If the court gives a decision, it is good; if it does not, our confidence in Indian democracy will be shaken,” said one of the agitators.

In their arguments before the court, the CBI referred to a CD provided by Tytler to prove that he was not present at the site of the incident on Nov 3, 1984.

The court also asked the probe agency to give the CD of two witnesses - Jasbir Singh and Surender Singh in US - who have claimed that they saw Tytler leading a mob.

The CBI’s plea was opposed by senior advocate H.S. Phoolka, appearing for the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, who said it was too late for the agency to come up with such arguments.

“This court had earlier ordered re-investigation into this matter after rejecting the closure report filed by the CBI. So, this court has the jurisdiction to decide the issue,” Phoolka said.

Phoolka also alleged the CBI had quoted a wrong judgement of the apex court to ask for the case to be shifted to a sessions court. He said the apex court judgement was later set aside and the CBI was misleading the court by saying that it has no jurisdiction to take cognisance of the CBI report.

Soon after the hearing, Phoolka alleged that he was threatened by supporters of Tytler.

“I was manhandled and threatened by Jagdish Tytler’s supporters who were present in the uniform of lawyers as well as other supporters in the court premises. They told me ‘we will see you’,” Phoolka told reporters outside the court premises.

H.J.S. Aluwalia, another lawyer representing Sikh victims, said, “Wrong citing of judgement by the CBI is contempt of court and calls for strict action.”

Tytler, a former central minister, was nominated by the Congress as Lok Sabha candidate for Northeast Delhi. The Congress dropped him as candidate following protests by the Sikh community.

On April 2, the CBI pleaded with the court that the case against Tytler be closed.

The CBI said affidavits of two witnesses, Surender Singh and Jasbir Singh, were inconsistent and contradictory.

This was one of the seven cases registered by the CBI relating to the anti-Sikh riots that took place in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards Oct 31, 1984.

Tytler was among the three prominent Congress leaders accused of having incited mobs against the Sikhs in 1984. The other two were Sajjan Kumar, the candidate from South Delhi, and the late H.K.L. Bhagat.

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