India News

’84 riots: Sajjan to remain in jail as SC defers hearing on his appeal

New Delhi, August 5

Awarded life term by the Delhi High Court in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar (73) will continue to be in jail for at least for the next nine months as the Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear his appeal against conviction in May next year.

Kumar has challenged the Delhi High Court’s verdict of December 17 last year that awarded him life imprisonment for the “remainder of his natural life” in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case relating the killing of five Sikhs in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar Part-I area of southwest Delhi on November 1-2 in 1984, and burning down of a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar Part-II. He is also seeking suspension of sentence and his release on bail.
A Bench headed by Justice SA Bobde – which had on April 15 said it would take up his plea in the first week of August – said it was not an “ordinary case” and required detailed hearing before passing of any order.

“We understand that these are not simple criminal cases… It is not an ordinary case,” said the Bench – which also included Justice BR Gavai.
On behalf of Kumar, senior counsel Vikas Singh requested the Bench to take up his plea for hearing, but the Bench turned it down, saying, “We find it very difficult to grant an order which you are seeking without reading or without hearing.”

The CBI had earlier told the Bench that the offence Kumar was convicted of was of “gruesome nature” as killing of Sikhs after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was a “genocide”.

On behalf of the CBI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told the top court in April that Kumar was facing trial in another 1984 anti-Sikh riots case at the Patiala House district court in the capital in which recording of evidence was going on and out of 35 prosecution witnesses, only seven had been examined.

Kumar’s counsel had submitted said he was granted anticipatory bail by the high court in the case in which trial is going on and it was affirmed by the top court also.