The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed the writ petition filed by the People’s Union for Democratic Rights and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties seeking an_ inquiry into the November riots.

Justice Yogeshwar Dayal and Justice B. N. Kirpal said in their separate judgments running into 70 pages that the Government’s decision not to appoint a commission of inquiry was political. The court should not question the decision.

“Courts should never be resorted to for political games. If the courts start entering into the political arena directly or indirectly, expressly or impliedly, they will cause serious damage to the institution, of judiciary,” justice Dayal said in his main judgment.

An inquiry by the court will not reveal any new fact which is not already before the public.

“But the inquiry will be exploited by communalists of all groups to project themselves as spokesmen for one community. There will be charges and countercharges, real or imaginary. The inquiry will not alleviate the feelings of the riot stricken people but would rather exacerbate them,” the judge said.

The judgment stated that under the Criminal Procedure Code, investigations of this nature are entrusted only to the police. “It is not even subject to the normal supervisory power of the court.’’ A recent judgment of the Supreme Court, in Sampatlal’s case, was quoted in this context.

It was not the function of the High Court to conduct a parallel investigation. “This court cannot assume this function when cases have ultimately to be tried by the subordinate courts. It will gravely prejudice the investigation and trial. If the High Court embarks upon the investigation, one has to only imagine the embarrassment. The lower courts will be under unknown and indefinite psychological pressure,” the judge asserted.

He explained the need for keeping the ‘‘fine and delicate’’ balance between the executive and the judiciary. ‘“‘The court should not have an attitude that they alone are the protectors of the fundamental rights and a democratically elected Government has no such feeling or inclination,” the judge said.

The court’s attitude towards the executive should not be one of suspicion and confrontation but of trust. Only when the executive fails in protecting the rights should a citizen approach the court.

Justice Dayal admitted that investigating journalists have done some commendable job in the recent past. But investigation is a highly specialized job, requiring a lot of experience. ‘“‘We have real pity for their laudable efforts,” the judge wrote about journalists.

The judgment stated that the court has examined the reports of the petitioners and the Government and there was no need to appoint another inquiry which will add confusion to the problem.


“A new channel of inquiry is likely to create an impression that everything is not well with the statutory agency and it is likely to cause permanent stigma on the entire police hierarchy,” according to Justice Dayal.

The judgment quoted extensively the steps taken by the Delhi Administration, as stated in its affidavit to show that the Government is alive to the situation.

The Attorney General has even conceded negligence or inactivity or collusion on the part of some political officers and submitted that a high police officer was conducting the inquiry. The judgment stressed the need for creating a sense of security instead of provoking mass frenzy.

Justice Kirpal stated in his separate judgment that “No relief can be granted to the petitioners and I agree that the petitions should be dismissed with no order as to costs.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 29, 1985