HC rejects plea,Sajjan to face trial

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed the pleas filed by former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar and three other accused in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots,challenging the charges framed against them by a trial court in 2010

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Updated: April 9, 2014 5:33 pm

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed the pleas filed by former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar and three other accused in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots,challenging the charges framed against them by a trial court in 2010. The Sessions court in Karkardooma is expected to commence the trial on July 30.

The CBI had initially filed its chargesheet accusing Kumar,Ved Prakash Pial,Peeru,Khushal Singh and Brahmanand Gupta in the death of six men in the Sultanpuri area on November 1,1984.

At the time of framing charges,the CBI had only framed charges against the accused for the death of Surjeet Singh,in whose case the police had earlier filed an “untraced” report and closed the case.

The trial court in 2010 had framed charges for the offences of rioting,murder,unlawful assembly,destruction of property and spreading enmity between two communities,among others.

The high court bench of Justice Suresh Kait in his order took note of the CBI argument that several witnesses had given statements that they “were scared and were pressurised by higher-ups not to depose against the petitioners”. The court also noted the submission of senior advocate H S Phoolka who had appeared on behalf of some of the riot victims,stating that the police had failed to record their statements correctly.

Kumar’s lawyers had argued that the Congress leader’s name had not been mentioned in the FIRs filed initially in the case and that the main witnesses in the case had retracted from their previous statements and had denied seeing Kumar at the time of the attacks.

The accused had also argued that the CBI had “arbitrarily picked up” six cases out of the 49 deaths that occurred on November 1,1984,and had filed a chargesheet even though the accused had already been tried for some of these deaths.

The CBI had filed the chargesheet after conducting investigations on the basis of the Nanavati Commission report in 2005.

Justice Kait cited the Supreme Court judgment in the Zahira Shaikh case to justify accepting the witnesses,noting that the apex court had said a court can accept the changed testimony of a witness if there are adequate reasons why the witness had not given correct statement earlier.

“The court can consider the genuineness of the prayer in the context as to whether the party concerned had a fair opportunity to speak the truth earlier and in an appropriate case accept it,” he said.

The court accepted the CBI argument that concrete proof of Sajjan Kumar’s involvement was not required at the stage of framing of charges. “The court is not to see whether there is sufficient ground for conviction of the accused or whether the trial is sure to end in his acquittal…. The requirement at the stage of charge / framing of charge is a mere presumption leading to a strong suspicion,whereas the consideration at the stage of trial is the principle of beyond reasonable doubt,” it said.

The court also dismissed a plea filed by complainant Sheela Kaur to add charges of criminal conspiracy to the case,stating that the evidence presently on record did not indicate a “meeting of minds” prior to the incident to justify charge of criminal conspiracy.

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