Jagdish Tytler

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Jagdish Tytler
Jagdish Tytler.jpg
Jagdish Tytler at Manjeet Bullar Cavalry Gold Cup Polo 2010
Minister of State
In office
Personal details
Born (1944-01-11) 11 January 1944 (age 75)
Gujranwala, Punjab, British India
Political partyIndian National Congress
ResidenceNew Delhi

Jagdish Tytler (born Jagdish Kapoor; 11 January 1944) is an Indian National Congress politician and former Member of Parliament. He has held several government positions, the last being as Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs, a post from which he resigned after publication of a report by an official commission of inquiry, known as the Nanavati Commission. The Commission had noted that he "very probably" had a hand in organising attacks on the Sikh community in Delhi after Sikh bodyguards assassinated the Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. He has not been charged with any crimes related to those riots.

Due to the controversy concerning his involvement in the riots, the Congress party dropped his name as the candidate for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.[1]

Early days[edit]

Tytler was born on 11 January 1944 as Jagdish Kapoor to a Hindu father and Sikh mother in the Punjabi city of Gujranwala in British India.[2] He was brought up by the educationist James Douglas Tytler, the founder of many public schools including the Delhi Public School and the Summer Fields School.[3] In 2011, his entry into the Jagannath Temple at Puri, which is reserved only for Hindus, caused questions about his religion, to be raised in the Odisha Legislative Assembly.[4] Tytler denied having converted to Christianity, and stated that he had changed his name to show his gratitude towards James Douglas Tytler, who had brought him up.[5]

Active in the Congress' youth organisation and a "disciple" of Sanjay Gandhi,[citation needed] he was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980. He served as a Union Minister first in the Civil Aviation department and then in the Labor department. He was re-elected in 1991 and served as the Union Minister of State for Surface Transport. In 2004, he was re-elected to the Lok Sabha.[6]

1984 anti-Sikh riots[edit]

Tytler has been accused of involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India, a charge that he denies. The riots had occurred after Sikh bodyguards assassinated Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Tytler stated that he was present at Teen Murti Bhavan for the funeral ceremony with Gandhi's body and was in mourning at the time when these events occurred at Gurudwara Pulbangash, situated near Azad Market.[7][8] He has not been charged with any crimes related to the 1984 riots.[9]

On April 2004, the Indian National Congress announced Jagdish Tytler as its candidates for Indian Parliament elections for constituencies in and around Delhi.

In 2019, Tytler said of the controversy surrounding the anti-Sikh riot accusations that

I do not understand why is this controversy. There were 5,000 people at the function, I was one of them. There is no FIR against me. CBI cleared me three times in its inquiry. You should ask the BJP if there is any FIR against me.[10]

Nanavati Commission[edit]

The report of the Nanavati Commission looking into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots said that Tytler "very probably" had a hand in organising the attacks. The then Congress-led Government of India, however, decided not to prosecute him or anyone else named in the report due to lack of concrete evidence.[11]

Tytler, who had been appointed minister of state with independent charge of non-resident affairs, claimed innocence, saying that it was a case of mistaken identity.[citation needed] He said he had not been in the area at the time and that eight earlier commissions of inquiry had exonerated him.[12] On 10 August 2005, he resigned from the Union Council of Ministers, stating that it was his "moral duty" to do so to prevent opposition parties making political capital out of the situation following release of the Nanavati report.[13]

Defamation allegations[edit]

In 2004, lawyer H. S. Phoolka filed a case in the Ludhiana court against Tytler, accusing Tytler of defaming him during a television programme in the same year.[14] In 2014, Phoolka declined an "unconditional apology" from Tytler as a proposed settlement.[15] The court framed charges against Tytler in 2015. As of July 2018, no verdict had been reached.[16]

Reopening of the case in 2007[edit]

India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) closed all cases against Tytler in November 2007 for his alleged criminal conspiracy to engineer riots against Sikhs in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination on 31 October 1984. The CBI submitted a report to the Delhi court which stated that no evidence or witness had been found to corroborate the allegations of instigating crowd during riot against Tytler.[17][18][19]

On 18 December 2007, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi court, Sanjeev Jain, who had earlier dismissed the case after the CBI's report to his court, ordered the CBI to reopen cases against Tytler relating to the riots.[20]

"Clean chit" by CBI[edit]

In March 2009, the CBI filed its final report on investigation into the riots cases and cleared Jagdish Tytler.[7] The BJP which was then in opposition alleged that "such a clean chit ahead of the elections" implied that the CBI had been misused.[21] On 2 April, CBI claimed there was lack of sufficient evidence against Tytler and sought to close the riot case.[22]

On 7 April 2009, the then Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, had a shoe thrown at him by Jarnail Singh, a Sikh journalist, during a press conference in Delhi. Singh, who works at the Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, was dissatisfied with Chidambaram's answer to a question about the "clean chit" given to Tytler.[23]

In 2010, CBI reiterated the clean chit to Tytler.[22]

Denial of Lok Sabha ticket[edit]

After the shoe throwing incident, the Congress party dropped both Tytler and Sajjan Kumar as Congress candidates for the Lok Sabha elections of 2009.[24] Tytler accused the media of victimizing him through a media trial. Tytler blamed the Shiromani Akali Dal and his "enemies" within the Congress party for scuttling his nomination.[25]

Reiteration of CBI clean chit in 2010[edit]

In February 2010, at a Delhi court before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Rakesh Pandit, the CBI concluded its arguments stating that the witness’ statements were "false and concocted", CBI supported its closure report that gave a clean chit to Tytler in the riots case. The CBI prosecutor stated that "The version of (witness) Jasbir Singh is absolutely false and concocted. He has made statements with an intention to falsely implicate Tytler."[22] CBI had examined another witness Surender Singh and his family members who stated that the statements of the witness were not correct. CBI had produced a CD before the court to prove that Tytler was not at the location of riot but was present at the residence of Indira Gandhi.[22]

2013 Sessions Court decision[edit]

In April 2013, a Sessions Court rejected the CBI report and ordered investigation against Tytler.[26] Witnesses in the subsequent investigation have included Abhishek Verma[27] and Amitabh Bachchan.[28]


  1. ^ Changing Electoral Politics in Delhi: From Caste to Class, SAGE, p.95, Sanjay Kumar
  2. ^ Bartrop, Paul R. (2012). A Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporary Genocide: Portraits of Evil and Good. ABC-CLIO. p. 318. ISBN 978-0313386787. Retrieved 2 July 2019. Jagdish Tytler is a former Indian federal minister accused in several official commissions with responsibility for facilitating murderous anti-Sikh riots and massacres in 1984 but subsequently cleared by police. He was born in January 11, 1944, as Jagdish Kapoor, in the city of Gujranwala, Punjab, to a Hindu father and a Sikh mother.
  3. ^ "Bio-Data of Jagdish Singh Tytler". Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 14 July 2004. Archived from the original on 28 June 2004.
  4. ^ "Ruckus in Orissa assembly over Tytler's Jagannath Temple visit". NDTV. PTI. 28 March 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Jagdish Tytler clarifies, BJD cries riots - Politics over temple trip takes centre stage as Congress leader is back in state". www.telegraphindia.com.
  6. ^ "Fourteenth Lok Sabha: Members Bioprofile". Lok Sabha Secretariat. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Jagdish Tytler: My own daughter asks if I killed Sikhs". BBC. 19 February 2014. Archived from the original on 8 February 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  8. ^ "No fresh FIR against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, CBI tells Delhi court". The Indian Express. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Clips show Jagdish Tytler confessing about riots: Sikh leader". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 6 February 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Sheila Dikshit backs Jagdish Tytler's presence at her charge taking ceremony amid attacks by AAP, BJP". The Times of India. 16 January 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Indian politicians clash over report on anti-Sikh riots". CBC News. 9 August 2005. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  12. ^ "I am innocent: Tytler". Rediff. 8 August 2005. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Jagdish Tytler resigns from Union Cabinet". Outlook. 10 August 2005. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Tytler granted bail in defamation case". India Today. 18 April 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Defamation case: Jagdish Tytler offers apology, H S Phoolka refuses". The Economic Times. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  16. ^ "Defamation case: Jagdish Tytler withdraws plea in HC". Business Standard. 12 July 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  17. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News". www.tribuneindia.com. Archived from the original on 20 December 2007.
  18. ^ "Fresh probe into India politician". BBC News. 18 December 2007.
  19. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News". www.tribuneindia.com. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009.
  20. ^ "1984 riots: CBI to re-investigate Tytler's role | India News - Times of India". The Times of India.
  21. ^ "CBI files final report in anti-Sikh riot case against Tytler". DNA. PTI. 28 March 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  22. ^ a b c d "CBI reiterates clean chit to Tytler". The Hindu. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  23. ^ "Journalist throws shoe at Chidambaram | News - Times of India Videos ►". The Times of India.
  24. ^ "Congress drops Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar".
  25. ^ "Sheila shooed me out, says Tytler". 11 April 2009 – via The Economic Times.
  26. ^ Sessions court rejects CBI’s clean chit to Tytler. The Hindu, 10 April 2013
  27. ^ "Abhishek Verma testimony to be recorded".
  28. ^ "Amitabh Bachchan witness in Tytler case".

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