A question is being repeatedly raised as to whether the SIT to be constituted now would be able to find any evidence against the accused persons?
In the year 2005, Nanavati Commission had recommended reopening of only 4 cases. Out of these 4 cases, chargesheet was filed in 3 cases and investigation was conducted from the year 2006-2009, i.e. 22-25 years after the killings in the year 1984.
These cases had also earlier been closed by the Police as untraced. Now the investigation conducted after 25 years resulted in bringing out enough evidence to file a charge sheet in 3 out 4 cases, i.e. in 75% of the cases reopened enough evidence was found.
In one case, evidence has been recorded from the year 2010-2012. The witnesses deposed before the Court after 26/27 years and were able to withstand strenuous cross-examination by the lawyers of accused persons. 5 accused were convicted in this case, 3 were given life imprisonment and 2 were given 3 years sentence.
This clearly goes to show that the SIT proposed to be appointed, would have substantial results. If the cases closed by police which were reopened after 21 years, statements recorded after 25 years by investigating agencies, and depositions recorded after 27 years, can result in conviction then why not the statements to be recorded by SIT? Why are we then not hopeful that the cases to be reopened and the statements to be recorded now would also show results?
We must not forget that for murders there is no statute of limitation, and no matter how many years pass by, justice has to be done and the guilty must be punished. All over the world there are instances of trials and convictions years and decades after the pogroms. It is the system that has caused undue delay and failed its citizens in getting justice, how can this delay be used as a reason to deny them justice altogether?
A large number of witnesses are available and prepared to give evidence. Their memories are very much alive and the unfortunate incidents that changed their whole lives are vividly etched in their minds.
I am certain that the SIT by reopening cases wrongly closed by Police will finally achieve justice for the victims.

H S Phoolka

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