H S Phoolka, the well known lawyer who has been arguing the cases of Sikh riot victims since 1985, blames the United Progressive Alliance government for trying to fool the Indian public by claiming that Justice G T Nanavati himself was in doubt over whether Jagdish Tytler, currently the minister for overseas Indian affairs, had a hand in the October-Novermber 1984 riots following then prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination.
"They are taking shelter behind the word 'probably' and trying to shield Jagdish Tytler. I am surprised that some leading lawyers from the Congress party are trying to defend a man who should have been prosecuted by claiming that Justice Nanavati had not indicted the minister in question. Those who have studied law and practise it know that when a judge is giving his findings as head of a Commission of Inquiry, the maximum length that he can go is to use the word probably. If the judge was to say that the man was indeed involved, that would amount to passing judgment," Phoolka told rediff.com on Monday night.
He took the UPA government to task for saying it would consider what action to take against police officers whose conduct had been found questionable by the Nanavati Commission.
"This government has been sitting on the report for the last 6 months and in this period, they should have registered First Information Reports against the officials and politicians named in the report and proceeded against them," Phoolka added indignantly. "But look at what they have done. They reluctantly table the report in the House after 6 months only to say that they would consider taking action. Even now, they are not saying we are initiating action against the erring officials and politicians. In the case of the politicians, they are trying to protect them instead of prosecuting them."
The Justice Nanavati Commission, in its recommendation, said 'it is safe to record a finding and that there is credible evidence against Shri Jagdish Tytler to that effect that very probably, he had a hand in organising attacks on Sikhs. The Commission, therefore, recommends to the government to look into this aspect and take further action as may be found necessary.'
Phoolka said it was not the judge's responsibility to file an FIR. This was the job of the police and they would have to further investigate the matter.
The Commission's recommendations have come as a shock to Phoolka who expected the findings to be much more explosive than what has been noted in the 184-page report by Justice G T Nanavati.