The CBI on, March 15, told the Supreme Court that former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar’s plea challenging the life term awarded to him by the Delhi High Court in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case should be dismissed.
The probe agency in its reply on Sajjan Kumar’s plea seeking bail said he has a “large political clout” and is capable of “influencing or terrorising” witnesses in the case pending against him. It told the apex court said that fair trial in the pending case would not be possible if Kumar is granted bail. The CBI said that Kumar’s “political clout clouded fair and speedy investigation and derailed justice for the victims” of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
A bench of Justice SA Bobde and Justice SA Nazeer posted the matter for further hearing on March 25. The case in which Kumar was convicted and sentenced relates to the killing of five Sikhs in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar Part-I area of southwest Delhi on November 1 and 2, 1984, and burning down of a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar Part-II.
Anti-Sikh riots had broken out after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 by her two Sikh bodyguards.
The top court had earlier admitted the appeal of Kumar for hearing and had also issued notice to the CBI on his bail plea seeking its response within four weeks. It had also allowed the former Congress leader to file a “lengthy list of dates” and “additional facts and grounds” in favour of his appeal.
The 73-year-old Kumar had surrendered before a trial court here on December 31, 2018, to serve the sentence in pursuance of the high court’s December 17 judgment awarding him life imprisonment for the “remainder of his natural life”. After his conviction in the case, Kumar had resigned from the Congress party.
The high court had convicted and sentenced Kumar to spend the remainder of his life in jail for the offences of criminal conspiracy and abetment in commission of crimes of murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of communal harmony and defiling and destruction of a Gurdwara.
It had also upheld the conviction and varying sentences awarded by a trial court to five others — former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and ex-MLAs Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar.
In its judgment, the high court had noted that over 2,700 Sikhs were killed in the national capital during the 1984 riots which was indeed a “carnage of unbelievable proportions”. It had said the riots were a “crime against humanity” perpetrated by those who enjoyed “political patronage” and aided by an “indifferent” law enforcement agency. The high court had set aside the trial court’s 2010 verdict which had acquitted Kumar in the case.