Kehar Singh and Ors v. State Of Delhi [1988]

Kehar Singh and Ors v. State Of Delhi [1988]

By Ashlesha Suryawanshi


On 31st October 1984, at about 9 a.m., Smt. Indira Gandhi was killed by Beant Singh SI and Constable Satwant Singh by firing 5 rounds of the revolver and 25 shots of Gun respectively at her residence in New Delhi, while she was going for the interview with Irish television. She was accompanied by her staff including head constable Narayan Singh,  Rameshwar Dayal also Nathuram and R .k Dhawan who are sub inspector and special assistant respectively. 

They both ( Beant Singh, Satwant Singh) have a grudge against the prime minister, Indira Gandhi because she initiated the ‘Operation Blue star’ at Amritsar to stop the entry of terrorists and the entry of the terrorist group at the Golden temple. Many terrorists had taken refuge in the golden temple and some Sikh militants supported them and provided them with arms. Therefore prime minister Indira Gandhi launched ‘Operation Blue Star’  in June 1984, ordering the army to take action which has its main aim to eliminate terrorists from the Golden temple.

The operation resulted in huge violence with loss of life and property. About 100 military men were martyred and 800 plus people died in the operation. In fights, at the temple, Akal Takht (the sacred tomb at the temple) was damaged and due to this, the spiritual beliefs of the Sikh Community got hurt.

Kehar Singh who was the uncle of Beant Singh influenced him to kill Indira Gandhi to take revenge which was eventually the message from the 10th Sikh guru. Therefore they made a plan to kill her at her residence while she was passing from the gate. After that, she was immediately taken to the All India Institute of medical science(AIIMS).  In  post mortem, it was found that she died because of homage and shock which was eventually caused by shooting.

 After firing, Indo Tibetan police arrested Satwant Singh and Beant Singh died at spot. The charges of offences under sections 120b, 109, 34, and 302 of the Indian penal code and 27,54,59 of arms act were filed against Satwant Singh, Kehar Singh and Balbir Singh.

Issues Raised

1) Whether the trial in Tihar jail was valid?

2) Can High Court Proceed with the power to direct the trial of a case other than the Normal seat of the Session Court?

3) Whether the high court can allot the case to a particular session judge? 

4) Is there any restriction on public trials?

Defendants Arguments

1) The Defendants side raised the point that addresses the issue of Public trial, so Under article 21of the Constitution of India   Guaranteed the speedy, open and public trial but in the current case this guarantee was breached and the accused do not provide a fair public trial and the Court Authority restrict the entry of media and press.

2) For Further Investigation they call the Thakkar Commission which was headed by justice MP Thakkar ,  the defendant pleaded that they were deprived to get reports of the Thakkar Commission so they did not know who is the witness and other facts related to substantial material like evidence, post mortem report

3) They also objected that according to Section 6th of the Commission of the Inquiry act 1952 the statement made before the court could not use against the accused but here they misconstrued the scope of it. 

4) Further the learned Council by taking a review of the Cardinal principle of Constitution that is Equality before the law, they state that though they deal with the case of Prime Minister of India and not any common man, according to the principle of Equality the accused have right to choose the service of Council at the state expenditure. 

5) on the behalf of Balbir Singh, it was alleged during the police investigation the police wanted to arrest him but he was not found and, since he was in police custody they can not put the question of absconding because of Lack of Evidence.

6) The learned Council also pleaded that under section 164 of Indian Penal code  the confession of Satwant Singh was inaccurately reported and therefore it is not satisfactory to use against the accused.

7) There is no substantial evidence that shows that Kehar  Singh exposed Beant Singh to the killed prime minister.

Here there is no Charged with the Crime of Murder but the Accused is guilty of criminal conspiracy.

Plaintiff Arguments 

1)  The respondent states that under  Article 136 of the Constitution which talks about Special leave petition, no one can interfere in the investigation or findings of the trial court and the Court examines all evidence whenever it is necessary.

2) According to the respondent council, Article 21 talks about the procedure established by law and therefore from this, we cannot amend section 327 of Code of Criminal Procedure because it ultimately affects the procedure. Only the place of trial can not decide whether it is an open trial or not and in this case the place where the trial is held is the ordinary place where the people are permitted to attend the trial.

3) According to section 9 (6) of the code of criminal procedure the high court can decide the place of the trial by issuing the notification to the authority, it was also pleaded that for security they do not disclose investigation reports also statements of witnesses are protected and can not convey.

4) In section 194 of the Code of Criminal procedure  it was clearly stated that the high court has the authority to specify the judge for the trial Court.

5) While investigating, the document was found from the private belongings of Balwant Singh shows that he did not connect with the conspiracy due to lack of evidence he was not held liable.


This is the case of criminal conspiracy, which was a planned murder of Indira Gandhi by the persons of her security counsels. The court finds various issues under this case. 

1) In the issue of transfer of trial court, the high court states that section 194 of Code of criminal procedure  authorizes the judge of the trial court to transfer the case to the high court if it is needed.) 

2) And Tihar jail was a place of trial which is appropriate according to section 9 of Code of criminal procedure and the trial was carried out legally so it is valid. The court observed the judgement of  Saha Singh and others vs Emperor, and use it as precedent to state that holding the trial in jail is not a violation of any fundamental right and ( section 327 of CRPC)

3) Further by analysing section 6 of the Commission of Inquiry act  the court held that there are two restrictions to be given by the witness which is estoppel and self-incrimination. 

4) In the post mortem report the Court found that Indira Gandhi died due to a gunshot and also the court considered the direct evidence and therefore the appeal of Satwant Singh was cancelled.

5) After Findings by the high court, section 302 of the IPC, concerning 120B and Section 34 of Indian Penal Code  we’re proven against Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh beyond a reasonable doubt.


Indira Gandhi, 3rd prime minister of India called the ‘ Iron lady’ of India was assassinated by her trusted bodyguard. She was famous for the Emergency provision and Operation blue star. Despite her achievement in politics, she faced a lot of opposition from the Sikh community because they wanted their state for which Indira  Gandhi did not support. Also, She initiated Operation Blue Star to protect Indians from the war of terrorism so she orders the Indian Army to attack the Golden temple, this creates unenforceable violence and many Sikhs died in this attack. But it was a justified step of the prime minister to stop terrorism. Her decision led to her death. Her assassination obtained widespread scope in the press of western and third world countries. This is an act of revenge that resulted in ongoing  haterade between Hindus and Sikhs. It was an open and shut case, having a landmark judgement. Though many blamed the Indian government for her death, not any gathered sufficient evidence to prove that. Also, some findings raised questions about Indira Gandhi’s close aide R.K Dhawan who had ordered her bodyguards to kill her however no clear evidence was found to prove this. Indira Gandhi was the true and determinant leader. She wanted India to be developed, dominant, wealthy and independent. Therefore she refused to support nationalism for Sikhism, she didn’t want to make a separate nation for Sikhs but wanted  India to be centralized.

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