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SC clears decks for Sajjan's trial in Sikh riots case

Source: PTI
September 20, 2010 19:28 IST
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The Supreme Court on Monday cleared the decks for the trial of senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 1984-anti Sikh riots by dismissing his plea for quashing criminal cases filed by the CBI.

A bench of Justices P Sathasivam and A R Dave rejected Kumar's argument that he cannot be tried after such a long gap as it violated his fundamental right for speedy trial and that CBI's key witnesses cannot be relied upon.

The apex court said the materials placed by the CBI was sufficient for the magistrate to proceed against Kumar whose guilt or otherwise can be determined only at the trial, which he now has to face.

"Though delay is also a relevant factor and every accused is entitled to speedy justice in view of Article 21 of the Constitution, ultimately it depends upon various factors/reasons and materials placed by the prosecution.

"In the case on hand, though delay may be a relevant ground, in the light of the materials which are available before the Court through CBI, without testing the same at the trial, the proceedings cannot be quashed merely on the ground of delay," Justice Sathasivam writing the judgment said.

Meanwhile, the trial court has fixed September 23 for re-commencing the trial against Kumar which was earlier stayed by the apex court on August 13. The apex court said that at the stage of framing of charges it was not necessary for the trial court to consider Kumar's plea that the testimony of the witnesess cannot be relied upon as they were made after several years.

"At the stage of framing of charge under Section 228 of the Cr.P.C.or while considering the discharge petition filed under Section 227, it is not for the magistrate or a judge concerned to analyse all the materials including pros and cons, reliability or acceptability etc.

"It is at the trial, the judge concerned has to appreciate their evidentiary value, credibility or otherwise of the statement, veracity of various documents and free to take a decision one way or the other," the Bench said.

The apex court, however, said the trial court shall not be influenced by any of the observations made by the Delhi High Court at the time of dismissing his earlier petition for quashing of the criminal charges.

Kumar, a former Outer Delhi MP, is facing prosecution in two cases in which he was accused of inciting a mob against Sikh community in the aftermath of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination on October 31, 1984.

The trial court had in May this year framed charges against Kumar and five others under Sections 302 (murder), 395 (dacoity), 427 (mischief to cause damage to property), 153A (promoting enmity between different communities) and other provisions of IPC.

The CBI had accused Kumar of provoking people against members of Sikh community during the carnage that led to the killing of several persons in 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 Justice G T Nanavati Commission which inquired into the sequence of events leading to the riots.

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