New Delhi | The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought a response from the police on a plea by convict Yashpal Singh challenging the death sentence awarded to him in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. Singh has filed the appeal against his conviction and sentence by a trial court here. He has also filed a bail plea in the matter.
A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal also issued a notice to Singh on the reference to confirm his death sentence. The bench issued a production warrant for Singh, who is lodged in the Tihar Jail after his conviction by the trial court on November 14. He was sentenced to death on November 20.
The bench listed the matter for further hearing on December 19. The trial court had also awarded life term to co-convict Naresh Sherawat in the case relating to the killing of two men in New Delhi during the 1984 riots — the first convictions in the cases reopened by the Special Investigation Team (SIT).
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 the 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 convicts have also been awarded varying jail terms and fines for offenses including an attempt to murder, dacoity and attacking victims by dangerous weapons.
The court spared convict Naresh the gallows while taking note of his medical condition and his lawyer’s arguments seeking leniency in the quantum of sentence.
Earlier, the court had convicted Singh 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 at her residence by two Sikh bodyguards a day before.
The case was lodged on a complaint by victim Hardev’s brother Santokh Singh.
The court held both the accused guilty under various sections including 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 395 (dacoity) and 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) of 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.