#Series- Indira Gandhi Murder Case

Thakkar Commission was constituted to inquire into the events which led to the assassination of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Constitution of the Commission

Soon after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the Government of India by notification dated 20.11.84 constituted a Commission under the Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952 (the act).

The Commissioner was presided over by Mr. Justice M.P. Thakkar, a sitting Judge of Supreme Court.

Terms of Enquiry

The terms of enquiry for the Committee were followings:

  • the sequence of events leading and all the facts relating to, the assassination of late Prime Minister;
  • Whether the crime could have been averted and whether there were any lefts or dereliction of duty in this regard on the part of any one of the commission of the crime and other individuals responsible for the security of the late Prime Minister;
  • the deficiencies, if any, in the security system and arrangements as prescribed or as operated to impractice which might have facilitated the commission of the crime;
  • the deficiencies, if any, in the procedure and measures as prescribed, or as operated in practice in attending to any providing medical attention to the late Prime Minister after the commission of the crime; and whether was any lapse or dereliction of duty in this regard on the part of the individuals responsible for providing such medical attention;
  • whether any person or persons or agencies were responsible for conniving, preparing and planning the assassination or whether there was any conspiracy in this behalf, and if so, all its ramifications.

The Commission was also asked to make recommendations as to corrective remedies and measures that need to be taken for future.

Procedure of Enquiry

On December 5, 1984, the Commission framed regulations under sec. 8 of the Act in regard to the procedure for enquiry.

Regulation 8 framed thereon reads:

“In view of the sensitive nature of the enquiry, the proceedings will be in camera unless the Commission directs otherwise.”

Accordingly, the Commission had its sittings in camera.

Report of the Commission

On November 19, 1985, the Commission submitted an interim report to the Government followed by the final report on February 27, 1986.

Thakkar has made some remarkably candid observations on the issue of security lapses that led to the assassination. Thakkar, who examined over 200 witnesses besides studying hundreds of pages of official records and analysing the VVIP security manuals and instructions issued by the security officials from time to time, traces in detail the sequence of events on the morning of October 31, 1984. The commission has established that:

  • In violation of all security norms, personnel in the prime minister’s security staff were frequently able to make mutual exchange of duty shifts.
  • The whole security system round the prime minister was structured in such an amorphous manner that it was impossible to hold any one person accountable for her protection. This particularly applied to Ram Nath Kao, virtually her most influential security advisor, who had a lot of power with “no accountability at all”.
  • There were frequent and serious differences of opinion between the Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi police, the two agencies mainly looking after the prime minister’s security, leading to lack of coordination.

In the normal course, the Government ought to have placed the report of the Commission under sec. 3(4) of the Act before the House of the People within six months of the submission of the report. But the Government did not do that.

The steps were taken to amend the Commissions of Inquiry Act. On May 14, 1986, the President of lndia promulgated Ordinance No. 6 of 1986 called the Commissions of Inquiry (Amendment) Ordinance 1986 by which sub-sections (5) and were introduced to sec. 3 as follows:

“(5) The provisions of sub-sec. (4) shall not apply if the appropriate Government is satisfied that in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State friendly relations with foreign State or in the public interest, it is not expedient to lay before the House of the people or, as the case may be, the Legislative Assembly of the State, the report, or any part thereof, of the Commission on the Inquiry made by the Commission under sub-sec. (1).”

In pursuance of this amendment on May 15, l986 the Central Government issued a notification under sub-section (5) of Section 3 stating,

“The Central Government, being satisfied that it is not expedient in the interest of the security of the State and in public interest to lay before the House of People, the report submitted to the Government on 19.11.85, and 27.2.86, by justice M.P. Thakkar, a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court of lndia appointed under the notification of the Government of India, in the Ministry of Home Affairs No. So. 867(B), dated the 20th November, 1984 thereby notifies that the said report shall not be laid before the House of People.”

It is interesting that on 20.8.86, Ordinance No. 6 was replaced by Commission of Enquiry (Amendment) Act. I986 (Act No. 36 of I986) with retrospective effect. The said notification dated May 15, l986 was also got approved by the House of People is required under sub-section 6 of Section 3 and therefore after the approval of the notification by the House of the People there remains no question of placing the report of the Commission before the House.


  1. Kehar Singh & Ors vs State (Delhi Admn.), 1988 AIR 1883, 1988 SCR Supl. (2) 24