1984 riots case: Defence seeks to drop witnesses against Sajjan

The court will decide the date for commencement of trial in the case on September 2.

Written by D K RITURAJ | New Delhi | Published: August 14, 2013 1:42 am

The trial in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case against former MP Sajjan Kumar and three others got deferred for the third time with the defence counsels in the case requesting a city court on Tuesday to drop nine prosecution witnesses and summon entire records of the case,including previous statements given by the prosecution witnesses in other trials.

Additional District Judge J R Aryan asked the prosecution to submit a reply to the defence request by September 2. The court will decide the date for commencement of trial in the case on September 2.

According to the defence,the CBI had filed a consolidated chargesheet against the accused who were implicated in three separate FIRs on charges of murder and rioting after the massacre of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. These FIRs related to a case in Sultanpuri,where at least 49 people had died,and a case for the murder of six persons had been registered. However,the CBI,for “technical reasons”,was not pressing charges for the killing of the six persons in the present trial but was trying the accused for the death of one person,Surjit Singh,in the Sultanpuri area.

The defence brought it to the notice of the court that nine of the 12 witnesses had been identified by the prosecution to depose in the ‘six persons’ murder case’. “When the subject matter before the court does not relate to the killing of six persons,then how can the witnesses specified for that case depose in the present matter?” A K Sharma,defence counsel in the case,said,branding the nine witnesses as “irrelevant” and requesting that they be dropped.

The prosecution counsel in the case refuted the defence arguments on the ground that charges in the case were collectively framed,under one common challan,for which the three cases could not be separated. Further,they alleged,it was for the prosecution to decide which witnesses were relevant or irrelevant to the case.

Two of the nine witnesses include Bhagwani Bai and Kamala Devi,who died earlier this year. Bhagwani,who passed away in July this year,had earlier alleged that she had seen Sajjan Kumar leading the mob and instigating them to kill the Sikhs.

Along with the witnesses,the prosecution confirmed to the court on Tuesday that the fourth accused in the case,Khushal Singh,had died.

The defence also requested the court for an entire record of the case including statements made by witnesses in earlier trials. “The defence is entitled to contradict or confront the witnesses on the basis of their earlier statements,” I.U. Khan,defence counsel,told the judge. The defence counsels also told the judge that they were not able to get certified copies of the “key documents” and,hence,were requesting the court to issue specific summons for the same.

CBI had filed a chargesheet against Kumar and four others — Brahmanand Gupta,Peru,Ved Prakash and Khushal Singh in January 2010 in connection with the deaths in the Sultanpari area during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Cases had been registered against them following the recommendations of the Nanavati commission in 2005.

The trial had been put on hold after Kumar had moved the High Court against the chargesheet. The High Court in July dismissed his plea and the trial is set to commence at a sessions court in Karkarduma.

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