Monday, December 17, 2018

Congress Leader Sajjan Kumar Sentenced to Life Term in a 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots


In Delhi High Court, A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel convicted Sajjan Kumar for criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and acts against communal harmony. The probe was carried out by the CBI which re-opened the case on recommendation of Nanavati Commission in 2005.

The high court said Kumar's life imprisonment will be for the remainder of his life and asked him to surrender by December 31. It also asked him not to leave Delhi before that.

The bench of Justices Muralidhar and Goel had on October 29 concluded hearing arguments on the appeals filed by the CBI, riots victims and the convicts, and reserved the judgment.

The Delhi HC upheld the conviction of five other accused-former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal, former MLAs Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokharin. These were convicted in the case relating to the murder of five members of a family in Raj Nagar area of Delhi Cantonment on November 1, 1984. While Bhagmal, Lal and Khokhar have been given life imprisonment, Yadav and Khokharin have been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Calling it "an extraordinary case", the Delhi HC observed that "normal scheme of things" it would have been impossible to proceed against Sajjan Kumar "as there appeared to be ongoing large-scale efforts to suppress cases against him by not even recording them."

"Even if they were registered they weren't investigated properly and investigations which saw any progress weren't carried to logical end of a charge sheet actually being filed. Even defence doesn't dispute that as far as FIR is concerned, a closure report had been prepared," said the HC.

Kumar's prosecution on November 16 came after Cham Kaur, a prosecution witness, told the court that in 1984 she had seen Kumar allegedly addressing the crowd in national capital's Sultanpuri area where he said that Sikhs had killed "our mother", reference made to former PM Indira Gandhi. Kaur further named other people who were shot dead on the same date by the mob.

Before Cham Kaur, another key prosecution witness Sheela Kaur had identified Kumar as the one who had instigated the mob in Sultanpuri.

The case was transferred from Karkardooma court to Patiala House court by the Delhi high court, which had directed the district judge to video record the proceedings at the cost of the accused.

The trial court had acquitted Sajjan Kumar in the case, but awarded life term to Khokhar, Bhagmal and Lal, and a three-year jail term to two others - former MLA Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar.

The convicts had challenged their conviction and sentencing by the trial court in May 2013.


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