July 11, 2020
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Twenty Five Years And Counting...

When we consider the current controversy over the Gujarat affidavits, and the conflicting witness accounts, it is instructive and horrifying to see how the 1984 cases drag on over the years. Take today's Indian Express report which shows how the CBI chief gave Tytler a clean chit, his officers had said prosecute him:

[CBI Joint Director Arun] Kumar discussed the merits and demerits of the evidence against Tytler at length. Kumar acknowledged that Surinder Singh had done several flip-flops in his testimony against Tytler. For example, he told the Nanavati Commission in January 2002 that Tytler led the mob and incited it to “burn the Gurudwara and kill Sikhs,” but he retracted this and filed a second affidavit in August 2002 denying the first. He reaffirmed this affidavit in April 2006 but then in an interview in December 2007, he claimed he had seen Tytler inciting the mob, a charge he repeated when he was examined in the US. “The cases have been politically used and misused time and again. If one relies upon the statements of witnesses, their changing statements will be quoted to prove them unreliable. On the other hand, the other side will argue that accused persons are so influential that nobody can depose truthfully in India.

Read the full piece here
It is also instructive to read, in another context, HS Phoolka describing his unending and heroic battle in the 1984 cases in his recent book co-authored with Manoj Mitta, When A Tree Shook Delhi -- the 1984 carnage and its aftermath:

[Soli] Sorabjee was absolutely uncompromising when it came to the integrity of the affidavits that the CJC was going to submit before the Mista Commission. He would repeatedly say to me, 'Go for quality, not quantity'. He was insistent that while preparing the affidavits of the victims and others, we should ensure that they were packed with facts, stark facts, with no embellishments, and authentic to the last detail. Sorabjee taught us, in effect, to crossexamine our own witnesse so that we were fully satisfied that he or she was genuine. The idea was to pre-empt the possibility of any of our witnesse breaking down when the other side would actually cross-examine them before the Misra Commission.
The exacting standards set by Sorabjee increased my responsibility manifold. As the CJC's convenor, it was my task to get affodavits prepared with such rigour. Given the magnitude of the task, it was not possible for me to do it single-handedly. Fortunately, a number of advocates volunteered their services to the CJC for preparing affidavits. But since I was junior to most of them too, the only way I could seek to enforce quality was by invoking Sorabjee's moral authority.
If any shoddy affidavits still got past me, Sorabjee himself was there as the last goalkeeper. This was evident from the very first batch of affidavits I showed to Sorabjee for his approval. The batch consisted of ten affidavits, all prepared by an advocate who was not only senior to me but was also a well-known human rights activist. Yet, Sorabjee threw these affidavits back at me saying, 'I don't want crap like this. These affidavits have less facts and more opinions and hearsay.' In a plaintive tone, I explained to him that I could not correct those affidavits because of the standing of the advocate who had prepared them. Sorabjee thundered: 'I don't care. I will hold you responsible even if a single kind is filed.'
All those ten affidavits were discarded by us, and chastened by that experience, I was more rigorous than before in weeding out bad affidavits. Out of some 3,000 affidavits offered by us, I chose only about 550 to be filed before the commission. This means that I selected one in five affidavits. It was on account of such care that every witness produced by us before the Misra Commission withstood the cross-examination despite all the efforts made by the other side to discredit him or her
(Pg 112-113)

One hopes similar advice about scrupulousness in filing affidavits was given to, and followed by, the CJP

Read more about the 1984 carnage

Twenty Five Years And Counting...
outlookindia.com
1970-01-01T05:30:00+0530

When we consider the current controversy over the Gujarat affidavits, and the conflicting witness accounts, it is instructive and horrifying to see how the 1984 cases drag on over the years. Take today's Indian Express report which shows how the CBI chief gave Tytler a clean chit, his officers had said prosecute him:

[CBI Joint Director Arun] Kumar discussed the merits and demerits of the evidence against Tytler at length. Kumar acknowledged that Surinder Singh had done several flip-flops in his testimony against Tytler. For example, he told the Nanavati Commission in January 2002 that Tytler led the mob and incited it to “burn the Gurudwara and kill Sikhs,” but he retracted this and filed a second affidavit in August 2002 denying the first. He reaffirmed this affidavit in April 2006 but then in an interview in December 2007, he claimed he had seen Tytler inciting the mob, a charge he repeated when he was examined in the US. “The cases have been politically used and misused time and again. If one relies upon the statements of witnesses, their changing statements will be quoted to prove them unreliable. On the other hand, the other side will argue that accused persons are so influential that nobody can depose truthfully in India.

Read the full piece here

It is also instructive to read, in another context, HS Phoolka describing his unending and heroic battle in the 1984 cases in his recent book co-authored with Manoj Mitta, When A Tree Shook Delhi -- the 1984 carnage and its aftermath:

[Soli] Sorabjee was absolutely uncompromising when it came to the integrity of the affidavits that the CJC was going to submit before the Mista Commission. He would repeatedly say to me, 'Go for quality, not quantity'. He was insistent that while preparing the affidavits of the victims and others, we should ensure that they were packed with facts, stark facts, with no embellishments, and authentic to the last detail. Sorabjee taught us, in effect, to crossexamine our own witnesse so that we were fully satisfied that he or she was genuine. The idea was to pre-empt the possibility of any of our witnesse breaking down when the other side would actually cross-examine them before the Misra Commission.
The exacting standards set by Sorabjee increased my responsibility manifold. As the CJC's convenor, it was my task to get affodavits prepared with such rigour. Given the magnitude of the task, it was not possible for me to do it single-handedly. Fortunately, a number of advocates volunteered their services to the CJC for preparing affidavits. But since I was junior to most of them too, the only way I could seek to enforce quality was by invoking Sorabjee's moral authority.
If any shoddy affidavits still got past me, Sorabjee himself was there as the last goalkeeper. This was evident from the very first batch of affidavits I showed to Sorabjee for his approval. The batch consisted of ten affidavits, all prepared by an advocate who was not only senior to me but was also a well-known human rights activist. Yet, Sorabjee threw these affidavits back at me saying, 'I don't want crap like this. These affidavits have less facts and more opinions and hearsay.' In a plaintive tone, I explained to him that I could not correct those affidavits because of the standing of the advocate who had prepared them. Sorabjee thundered: 'I don't care. I will hold you responsible even if a single kind is filed.'
All those ten affidavits were discarded by us, and chastened by that experience, I was more rigorous than before in weeding out bad affidavits. Out of some 3,000 affidavits offered by us, I chose only about 550 to be filed before the commission. This means that I selected one in five affidavits. It was on account of such care that every witness produced by us before the Misra Commission withstood the cross-examination despite all the efforts made by the other side to discredit him or her

(Pg 112-113)

One hopes similar advice about scrupulousness in filing affidavits was given to, and followed by, the CJP

Read more about the 1984 carnage

 

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