The Supreme Court Tuesday declined a plea by Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for quashing the charges against him in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. A bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice V. Gopala Gowda declined the appeal even as his lawyer, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi argued that Sajjan Kumar could not be charged under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code as there is no direct allegation of killing against him. Opposing the plea, senior counsel Dushyant Dave, appearing for the riot victims, said that the rioting in the Sultanpuri area of the national capital was at Sajjan Kumar’s behest. He said that it was Sajjan Kumar who provoked and led the rioters following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards. The court did not accept Sajjan Kumar’s plea that he had already faced trial for offences of rioting under Section 153-A of the IPC in Sultanpuri area on Nov 1, 1984 and trial again for the same offences in the same area was barred by Section 300 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Sajjan Kumar had challenged the Delhi High Court’s July 16 order, which while dismissing his plea against the framing of charges against him, held that he did not enjoy the protections of Section 300 of Code of Criminal Procedure which says that once a person is convicted or acquitted of an offence, he can’t be tried for the same again.
The high court had rejected his plea of suffering from “double jeopardy” as he was being again tried for the alleged offences of unlawful assembly, murder, rioting arson in A-4 Block, Sultanpuri. He had told the court that in an earlier case he was acquitted of the said charges. The high court had held that Sajjan Kumar was never tried for the offences alleged against him and his prosecution was as per Nanavati Commission’s recommendations.