The Supreme Court Monday said it would hear in the first week of August the bail application of former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, who was awarded life term by the Delhi High Court in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. The CBI told a bench of Justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer that offence for which Kumar was convicted was of “gruesome nature” as it was a “genocide”. Kumar, 73, who is lodged in jail, had resigned from the Congress party after he was convicted by the high court.
The case in which he 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 1-2 in 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.
Kumar has also challenged in the apex court 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. During the hearing Monday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, told the apex court that Kumar is facing trial in another 1984 anti-Sikh riots case at the Patiala House district court here.
Mehta said recording of evidence was going on in the case and out of 35 prosecution witnesses, seven have been examined till date. The counsel representing Kumar said the former Congress leader was granted anticipatory bail by the high court in the case in which trial is going on and it was affirmed by the apex court also. “This will have to be heard fully,” the bench said.
When Kumar’s counsel said that hearing on bail plea would not take much time, Mehta said, “See the gruesome nature of offence. It was a genocide.” The bench said it would hear the matter in the first week of August. On April 8, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had opposed his bail plea and claimed in the court that Kumar was the “kingpin” of a gruesome offence in which Sikhs were “massacred” in Delhi during 1984 riots.
However, the counsel representing Kumar had said that the former Congress leader was in jail for the past more than three months and during the adjudication of the trial, he was out on anticipatory bail and never misused the liberty. 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 verdict.
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.
The high court had set aside the trial court’s 2010 verdict, which had acquitted Kumar in the case.