The Supreme Court recently acquitted 7 persons accused of their involvement in 1984 Anti Sikh Riots who were convicted by the Delhi High Court, in November last year.
The Delhi High Court had convicted Ganeshan and six others under Sections 147, 188 and 436 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The High Court had heavily relied on the evidence of Rijju Singh (PW-2), Pat Ram (PW-5), Shoorvir Singh Tyagi (PW-7) and Manphool Singh (PW-8) to convict the accused.
Referring to their deposition, the Apex Court bench comprising the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna observed that none of them have deposed that these accused were part of the unlawful assembly or they were involved in any acts.
“We unhesitatingly take the view that what can be said to be established by the prosecution against the accused-appellants at the utmost and at best is that they were arrested, but that by itself will not make the accused-appellants liable for the offences alleged. The present one really is a case of no evidence and, therefore, we will have no good ground to sustain the order of the High Court which is hereby set aside.”
The court observed that mere passive witnesses and those present as a matter of curiosity without intending to entertain the common objective are not guilty. Courts normally consider prudent to insist on at least two if not three reliable witnesses who vouch and identify that the accused was a member of the assembly that had indulged in rioting, arson, looting etc, the bench said.
Setting aside their conviction, the bench allowed the appeal.