Apex court upholds life term for 3 in anti-Sikh riots

The Supreme Court has upheld the life term awarded to three men for burning two persons alive during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, rejecting their defence that there were contradictions in statements by witnesses and that victims’ bodies were never recovered.

A bench of Justices P Sathasivam and M Y Iqbal said the evidence has to be appreciated carefully without going into minor discrepancies and contradictions.

The court upheld the conviction as well as sentence handed down to Lal Bahadur alias Lal Babu, Surender P Singh and Charan, all residents of Delhi, by the Delhi High Court on August 27, 2008.  The HC had reversed their acquittal for killing Rajinder Singh and his aged father Sardool Singh. T he petitioners contended the bodies of the deceased were not found and the witnesses made contradictory statements against them. “It is well settled that discovery of body of the victim has never been considered as the only mode of proving the corpus delicti in murder.”Justice Iqbal said.

In fact, there are many cases like the present one where the recovery of the  body is impossible, specially in such a violent mob attack on the Sikh community in different places when the offenders tried to remove the dead bodies and looted articles,” Justice Iqbal, writing for the bench, said.

“We must take notice of the fact that the instant incident as alleged is not a solitary incident; such incidents took place in almost all parts of the country, especially in Delhi where many innocent persons of one community had been murdered and their properties had been looted because of the assassination of the prime minister of this country on October 31, 1984.” the bench added.

Harjit Kaur, then residing in west Sagarpur, lodged an FIR on November 9, 1984, alleging her house was looted and her husband and father-in-law were burnt alive.

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