Former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar, sentenced to life imprisonment in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, has moved the Delhi High Court seeking an additional 30 days to surrender, reported news agency PTI. The court is likely to hear the matter Friday. Kumar, who had been given time till December 31 to surrender before the police, has sought time till January 31, 2019.
Earlier this week, the Delhi High Court reversed a trial court’s decision and sentenced Kumar to life in connection with the murder of five members of a family in the wake of the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. A bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goel also made clear that Kumar’s life imprisonment will be for the remainder of his life. After the verdict, Kumar tendered his resignation from the primary membership of Congress.
H S Phoolka, senior counsel appearing for the victims, said he would oppose Kumar’s plea tomorrow. “Sajjan Kumar has filed an application in Delhi High Court to give him a month to surrender. We will oppose that application tomorrow,” he told ANI.
Meanwhile, Sajjan Kumar on Thursday appeared before the Patiala court in Delhi in connection with another 1984 riots case. In the case before the trial court, three persons — Kumar, Brahmanand Gupta and Ved Prakash — are facing trial on charges of murder and rioting pertaining to the killing of Surjit Singh in Sultanpuri.
The witness, Cham Kaur, earlier this year told the court that she had seen Kumar allegedly addressing a crowd in the national capital’s Sultanpuri area in 1984 that Sikhs had killed “our mother” and instigated the mob to kill them. She had further said the next morning, they were attacked in which her son and her father were killed. Kumar’s main counsel Anil Sharma failed to appear before the court today and the matter was adjourned till January 22, 2019.
The Delhi High Court held Kumar guilty of criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity, and acts against communal harmony. Besides Kumar, the bench upheld the trial court order awarding life term to former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagalpur and Girdhari Lal. The bench also upheld the conviction of two others in the case. The court also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh and directed Kumar not to leave the national capital.
Kumar was acquitted by a special CBI court on April 30, 2013, while it had held five other accused guilty of the crime. The trial court had handed three years of jail term to former MLA Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar. The CBI and victims of the riots had filed appeals against the acquittal of Kumar in the Delhi High Court. The five convicted had also filed appeals against their conviction. All appeals were heard together and the judgment was reserved on October 27.
Phoolka, argued before the High Court that the accused – Kumar – has always been in a position of influence since 1984 and all attempts to prosecute the accused have been blatantly thwarted. “He has enjoyed impunity and has always been beyond the reach of law”.