The Delhi High Court Tuesday said it intends to conclude in three weeks the hearing of appeals challenging the trial court’s verdict in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case in which Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was acquitted. A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel commenced hearing on the appeals filed by the CBI, riots victims and the convicts and said that it proposes to conclude it in 20 days. The court listed the matter for day-to-day hearing from Wednesday.
When the bail plea of a convict, former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar came up for hearing, the court told the counsel that if the appeals are not decided in three weeks, he could press the bail application. Khokhar, who has been lodged in Tihar Jail here since his conviction by the trial court in the case in May 2013, has sought the relief saying he should be granted regular bail till the pendency of appeals filed against the trial court’s verdict in the riots case.
During the day, senior advocate R S Cheema gave an overview of the entire case to the bench. Khokhar, a retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and two others were held guilty in a case relating to the murder of five members of a family in Raj Nagar area of Delhi Cantonment on November 1, 1984, after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. They had challenged their conviction and the award of life sentence by the trial court in May 2013.
The trial court had acquitted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the case but awarded life term to Khokhar, Bhagmal and Girdhari Lal and a three-year jail term to two others – former MLA Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar. The convicts have filed their appeals before the high court challenging the trial court’s verdict. The CBI has also filed an appeal, alleging they were engaged in “a planned communal riot” and “religious cleansing”. CBI and the victims have also appealed against the acquittal of Kumar.
The high court had on March 29 last year issued show cause notices to 11 accused including Khokhar and Yadav in five 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases which were earlier closed. The accused, who were acquitted of the charges, were asked why should the court not order reinvestigation and retrial against them as they faced allegations of “horrifying crimes against humanity”.