The Delhi High Court on Monday took strong exception to Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for casting “aspersions” on a judge for hearing a case relating to 1984 anti-Sikh riots in which CBI has filed an appeal against his acquittal by the trial court.
The court came down heavily on Kumar for seeking transfer of the matter to another bench, saying “we do not understand why you do not want to get over with the hearing”.
Kumar’s counsel told a bench of Justices Gita Mittal and P S Teji that the matter should be transferred to another bench of the high court as Justice Teji had heard this case when he was a trial court judge and was showing “keen interest”.
“We do not like allegations and aspersions. How dare you say keen interest was shown there in the matter? If the court is insisting on hearing a matter, that does not mean it is showing keen interest,” the bench told Kumar’s counsel.
“This matter is pending in the court. The matter relates to an incident which had happened in 1984. We have to get over with the matter,” the bench said.
“What we do not understand is that why you do not want to get over with this hearing. We are sitting here with an open mind. We are very conscious and we only follow the law,” the bench told Kumar’s counsel.
To this, the counsel told the bench that he would file a proper application in this regard.
However, the bench asked the advocates representing other accused, who have challenged their conviction in the case, if they had any “apprehension about justice from this court”.
Responding to this, the lawyers said they want the matter to be heard by the bench and have no such apprehensions.
The bench granted three days to Kumar’s counsel to move an application in this regard and posted the matter for hearing on October 3.
At the fag end of hearing, the court asked senior advocate R S Cheema, who is representing the CBI, about the reasons for delay in this case.
“The FIR in this case was registered in 2005. These five murders (related to this case) were never investigated properly earlier,” Cheema said.
CBI has moved the high court challenging the acquittal of Kumar in a case relating to killing of five Sikhs – Kehar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Raghuvender Singh, Narender Pal Singh and Kuldeep Singh, all belonging to the same family, by a mob in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar area during the riots. While acquitting Kumar, the trial court in 2013 had held five others guilty and awarded varying jail terms to them for
being part of the mob that killed the Sikhs.
Ex-councillor Balwan Khokkar, Girdhari Lal and retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal were given life term, while the remaining two, former MLA Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokkar, were given three-year jail term each for their lesser roles.
They have also challenged their conviction before the high court.
Besides CBI, victims’ family members Jagdish and Nirpreet Kaur had also challenged the trial court order in the case.
The trial court had acquitted Kumar in the 31-year-old case saying he deserved the “benefit of doubt” as key witness Jagdish Kaur did not name him as an accused in her statement given to the Justice Ranganath Mishra panel in 1985.
CBI, in its appeal before the high court, has alleged that the trial court had erred in acquitting Kumar as it was he who had instigated the mob during the riots that broke out after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.
The case against Kumar, a former Lok Sabha MP from Outer Delhi, and others was registered in 2005 on a recommendation by Justice G T Nanavati Commission. CBI had filed two charge sheets against him and other accused in January 2010.