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~By Kunal Rao

Casting aspersions on the functioning of the state machinery during 1984 riots, the Delhi High court asked why it couldn’t stop the riots which followed after the assassination of the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

“What was the state machinery doing? The incidents happened right next to the Delhi Cantonment,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra observed.

The court made the remark after it came to know that incidents of killing of Sikhs took place just next to the Delhi cantonment area.

The bench also put a question mark on the dealing of cases, observing had they been adjudicated properly, it would not have been hearing the issues now.

The bench’s remark came while hearing the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) plea against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar’s acquittal in the murder of five Sikhs in Raj Nagar area of Delhi Cantonment on November 1, 1984.

Appearing for Kumar, Senior Advocate Amit Sibal, informed the court that the Justice GT Nanavati Commission had not given any direction to re-investigate the case against Kumar.

Countering the contentions, the counsel for CBI, DP Singh and senior advocate HS Phoolka representing the riot victims said that Central government had reopened the cases only after receiving the report of the Nanavati Commission.

The hearing will now take place on July 19.

While Kumar was acquitted in the case by the trial court, former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and two others were held guilty.

In its appeal, the CBI had sought enhancement of sentence of the convicts, alleging that all of them were engaged in “a planned communal riot”.

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