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Court refuses to quash murder charge against Sajjan Kumar in '84 anti-Sikh riots

Source: PTI
July 19, 2010 17:34 IST
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In a setback to senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, the Delhi high court on Monday refused to quash various charges including that of murder against him in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, saying the delay in prosecution has apparently benefited him.

Kumar, a former member of Parliament from Outer Delhi, is facing prosecution in two cases in which he has been accused of inciting a mob against the Sikh community in the aftermath of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination on October 31, 1984, leading to the killing of several persons.

"Circumstances of the case and the nature of offences is certainly not such as to justify the quashing of the charges against the petitioner-accused (Kumar) in the interest of justice.

"The interest of justice requires that the offences allegedly committed by accused persons are expeditiously tried to preserve the rule of law in the society," the court said while directing the trial court to hold the proceedings against him expeditiously in the anti-Sikh riots cases.

Raising a doubt over the motive of the city police which had placed before a magisterial court the cancellation report "without competence", Justice Vipin Sanghi directed the Delhi police commissioner to examine the justifiability of the report and to file an action taken report within six months.

The court turned down the plea of Kumar that delay in the prosecution has adversely affected his case.

"The delay in the prosecution of the case against the accused does not, in any event, appear to have caused any prejudice to him. He has not faced trial for over two and a half decades and has enjoyed his freedom," the court said.

Kumar contended before the court that the charges should not have been framed against him in the light of "basic infirmities" with regard to the changing stands of the "key witness" as also the statements of several witnesses were recorded after much delay.

However, the court said the probative value of the material on record cannot be gone into at the time of framing of the charges and the material brought on record by the prosecution has to be accepted as true at that stage.

"The materials produced by the prosecution along with the chargesheet, namely, the statements of various prosecution witnesses raises grave suspicion against the petitioner (Kumar) accused about the commission of the alleged offences.

"It cannot be said at this stage that the petitioner is not involved in the commission of offences, of which he is charged," the court said.

Noting that victims' rights were at stake, the court said the police had failed to record the evidence of crucial witnesses and proceeded to file its report even though the investigation had been transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

"The untraced report by Delhi police was not by an authorised officer inasmuch, as the investigation of the case on the relevant date stood transferred to the CBI ... The endeavour of the police to rush with the filing of the report despite the transfer of the investigation to the CBI, prima facie, appears to be clandestine and calls for a high level inquiry," the court said.

A trial court had termed the case as "untraced" in July 2008 after the Delhi police filed a cancellation report stating that the complainant was not traceable.

The trial court had in May this year framed charges under Sections 302 (murder), 395 (dacoity), 427 (mischief to property), 153A (promoting enmity between different communities) and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code, paving the way for the trial of Kumar and five others.

The CBI had accused Kumar of provoking people against members of a particular community during the carnage, that led to the killing of five persons in the Delhi Cantonment area.

Besides Kumar, other accused in the case are Balwan Khokhar, Krishan Khokhar, Mahender Yadav, Captain Bhagmal and Girdhari Lal.

The CBI had filed two chargesheets against Kumar and others on January 13 in the riots cases registered in 2005 on the recommendation of the Justice G T Nanavati Commission which inquired into the sequence of events leading to the riots.

The trial court had on July 7 framed charges against the politician in another case in connection with the anti-Sikh riots.

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