Indira Gandhi Murder Case series
Who were the assassinator of Indira Gandhi?
There were four persons who were charged with the assassination of Indira Gandhi. These were Satwant Singh, Balbir Singh, Kehar Singh, Beant Singh.
How accused were arrested in Indira Gandhi’s Murder Case?
Accused of Indira Gandhi’s Murder case were not arrested on the same day of assassination.
Satwant Singh was arrested on 15Nov.84 at Red Fort where he had been taken after his discharge from the Hospital in early hours of the same day. The Chief Justice and the Judges of the Delhi High Court on a request made by Delhi Administration decided to depute and designate Shri S.L. Khanna, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Tis Hazari to deal with the remand matter of Satwant Singh in Red Fort, Delhi.
Kehar Singh, who was the Uncle (Phoopha) of Beant Singh working as an Assistant in the Office of the Director General of Supplies & Disposals was claimed to have been arrested on 30Nov.84.
Balbir Singh, a Sub-Inspector posted for security duty at Mrs. Gandhi’s office is said to have been arrested on 3Dec 1984. It is said that certain incriminating material was found on his person when searched at the time of his arrest.
Beant Singh had died as a result of injuries sustained by him at the time of assassination.
A report under Section 173 Cr. P.C. referred to as the charge-sheet was filed on 11Dec.1984 in the Court of Shri S.L. Khanna against Satwant Singh who had survived after a period of critical illness from his injuries and the two other persons referred to above namely Balbir Singh and Kehar Singh. These three persons were accused of an offence under Sections 120-B (Conspiracy), 109 (Abetment) and 34 read with 302 (Murder) IPC and also of substantive offences under Sections 302, 307 IPC and Sections 27, 54 & 59 of the Arms Act.
That report also mentioned Beant Singh as one of the accused persons but since he had died the charges against him were abetted. All the three were sentenced to death under Section 302 read with Sec. 120-B. But appeal against conviction of Balbir singh was allowed.
Who filed FIR
Investigation was entrusted to Rajendra Prasad Kochhar, then inspector in the homicide squad of the Crime Branch of Delhi Police. But, the Government soon decided to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to pursue the investigation.
Mr. Kochhar who was closely associated with the investigation throughout except for a short period between 15Nov 1984 when the SIT assumed charge and 27Nov 1984 when his services were lent to SIT, wad an important witness of the prosecution so far as investigation is concerned.
Shri Kochhar reached AIIMS at about 10 A.M. and at 11.25 A.M. on 31Oct 84 he sent at the Tuglak Road Police Station through Shri Vir Singh, a report on the basis of which First Information Report (FIR) for a cognizable offence punishable under Sections 307, 120-B IPC and Sections 25,27,54 & 59 of the Arms Act was registered at the Police Station. This report was based on the statement of Ram Narain Singh, who was an eye witness.
Upon receiving the news about the death of Smt. Indira Gandhi, the offence in the FIR was converted from Section 307(attempt to murder) to Section 302(murder) and investigation proceeded ahead.
Why accused killed Indira Gandhi?
As per the investigation, in June 1984 the armed forces of the Indian Union took action which is described generally as ‘Operation Bluestar’ under which armed forces personnel entered the Golden Temple complex at Amritsar and cleared it off the terrorists. In this operation it is alleged that there was loss of life and properties as well as damage amongst other things to the Akal Takht in the Golden Temple complex.
As a result of this Operation the religious feelings of the members of the Sikh community were greatly offended. All the four accused persons mentioned in the charge-sheet who were sikhs by faith have been expressing their resentment openly and holding Smt. Indira Gandhi responsible for the action taken at Amritsar.
They had met at various places and at various times to discuss and to listen inflammatory speeches and recording calculated to excite listeners and provoke them to retaliatory action against the decision of the Government to take army action in Golden Temple complex.
The resentment led them ultimately to the incident of 31.10.84 and to become parties to a criminal conspiracy to commit, an illegal act namely to commit the murder of Smt. Indira Gandhi.
Accused Kehar Singh, a religious fanatic, after the ‘Bluestar Operation’ converted Beant Singh and through him Satwant Singh to religious bigotry and made them undergo ‘Amrit Chhakna ceremony’ on 14Oct 1984 and 24Oct 1984 respectively at Gurudwara Sector V1, R.K. Puram, New Delhi. He also took Beant Singh to Golden Temple on 29Oct 1984 where Satwant Singh was to join them as part of the mission.
Since the ‘Bluestar Operation’ Balbir Singh was planning to commit the murder of Smt. Indira Gandhi and discussed his plans with Beant Singh, who had similar plans to commit the offence.
Balbir Singh also shared his intention and prompted Satwant Singh to commit the murder of Smt. Indira Gandhi and finally discussed this matter with him on 30th October, 1984.
In the first week of September, 1984, When a falcon (baaz) happened to sit on a tree near the main reception of PM’s house, at about 1.30 P.M. Balbir Singh spotted the falcon, called Beant Singh there and pointed out the falcon. Both of them agreed that it had brought the message of the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs and that they should do something by way of revenge of the ‘Bluestar Oeration’. Both of the above accused performed ardas then and there.
Objections of Opposition Counsel
Counsel of the accused (kehar Singh and Balbir Singh) first raised some preliminary objections about the procedure of the trial. For the trial of Mrs. Gandhi’s muder, High court, on an application, allowed the trial to be held at Tihar Jail to prevent any miscarriage of justice due to current situation of delhi. So, opposition counsel first raised the issue of venue of trial. He objected the manner of High court in which the High court fixed the venue of trial.
The second objection was about the trial held in jail and it Was contended that under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, open and public trial is one of the constitutional guarantees of a fair and just trial and by holding the trial in the Tihar Jail this guarantee has been affected and accused have been deprived of a fair and open trial as contemplated under Section 327 Cr. P.C.
The other question raised by the opposition counsel was that by preventing the accused from getting the papers of the Thakkar Commission, its report and statements of persons recorded; who are prosecution witnesses at the trial the accused have been deprived of substantial material which could be used for their defence.
In addition, raised certain preliminary objections pertaining to the evidence of post-mortem, ballastic expert and similar matters.
What Supreme Court said on the murder of Indira Gandhi?
While dismissing the appeal of accused against the conviction, Supreme court said that,
“The crime charged is not simply the murdering of a human being, but it is the crime of assassination of the duly elected Prime Minister of the Country.
In our democratic republic, if the Government becomes subversive of the purpose of its creation, the people will have the right and duty to change it by their irresistible power of ballot and have the Government of their own choice wisely administered. But no person who is duly constituted shall be eliminated by privy conspiracies. Indian citizens are committed to the Constitution. They have faith in the ballot box. They have confidence in the democratic institutions. They have respect for constitutional authorities.
The assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the third Prime Minister of India, has, therefore, come as a rude shock. It has sent shudder through the civilised world.”
Supreme Court further said that,
“It must be clearly understood that it is not a case where X is killed by Y on some personal ground or personal vendatta. The person killed is a lady and no less than the Prime Minister of this Country who was the elected leader of the people. In our country we have adopted accepted a system wherein change of the leader is permissible by and not by bullet.
The act of the accused not only takes away the life of popular leader but also undermines our system which has been working so well for the last forty years. There is yet another serious consideration.
Beant Singh and Satwant Singh are persons who were posted on the security duty of the Prime Minister. They are posted there to protect her from any intruder or from any attack from outside and therefore if they themselves resort to this kind of offence. There appears to be no reason or no mitigating circumstance for consideration on the question of sentence.
Additionally, an unarmed lady (Indira Gandhi) was attacked by these two persons with a series of bullets and it has been found that a number of bullets entered her body. The manner in which mercilessly she was attacked by these two persons on whom the confidence was reposed to give her protection repels any consideration of reduction of sentence.
In this view of the matter, even the conspirator who inspired the persons who actually acted does not deserves any leniency in the matter of sentence. In our opinion, the sentence awarded by the trial court and maintained by the High Court appears to be just and proper.
In the light of the discussions above Criminal Appeal No. 180/87 filed by accused Kehar Singh and Criminal Appeal No. 182/87 filed by accused Satwant Singh are dismissed. Conviction and sentence passed against them are maintained whereas Criminal Appeal No. 181/87 filed by Balbir Singh is allowed.”
Kehar Singh & Ors vs State (Delhi Admn.) 1988 AIR 1883, 1988 SCR Supl. (2) 24