1984 anti-Sikh riots case : SC asks CBI to apprise it of status of ongoing trial of Sajjan Kumar

The Supreme Court Monday asked the CBI to apprise it of the status of the ongoing trial in a case involving former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in connection with a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case and listed his bail plea for hearing on April 15.

The CBI told a bench of Justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer that Kumar, who was a sitting MP in 1984, was the “kingpin” of the massacre of Sikhs in the national capital in 1984.

“This is a gruesome offence of massacre of Sikhs. He (Kumar) was the leader and he was the kingpin of this,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, told the bench.

Mehta also told the bench it would be a “travesty of justice” if Kumar is enlarged on bail as he is facing trial in another 1984 anti-Sikh riots case at Patiala House district court here.

The bench said that it would hear on April 15 bail plea of Kumar, who was convicted and sentenced to life term by the Delhi High Court in connection with a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

The case in which Kumar was convicted and sentenced relates to the killing of five Sikhs in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar Part-I area of southwest Delhi on November 1 and 2, 1984, and burning down of a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar Part-II.

Anti-Sikh riots had broken out after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 by her two Sikh bodyguards.

1984 riots: Sajjan Kumar instigated mob to kill Sikhs, victim reiterates before court

 A key prosecution witness in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case Thursday reiterated before a Delhi court that Congress leader Sajjan Kumar had instigated the mob to kill Sikhs.

Denying Kumar’s suggestion that she had not named him in her earlier statement given to the Delhi police, Cham Kaur told the court that she always named Kumar as the one who instigated the mob.

While cross-examining her, Kumar’s lawyer suggested, “You took names of all the rioters in your statement….But you never named Sajjan Kumar. You are taking his name now.”

To this, Kaur said, “I have always taken the name of Sajjan Kumar.”

Kaur had earlier told the court that she had seen Kumar allegedly addressing the crowd in national capital’s Sultanpuri area in 1984 that Sikhs had killed “our mother” and instigated the mob to kill them.

“On October 31, 1984 we were watching TV on the demise of Indira Gandhi. On November 1, 1984 when I stepped out to look for my goat, I saw accused Sajjan Kumar addressing the crowed and was saying ‘hamari ma maar di. Sardaro ko maar do’ (our mother was killed… kill the Sikhs),” Kaur had told District Judge Poonam A Bamba.

She further said that the next morning, they were attacked in which here son and her father were killed.

“My son Kapoor Singh and my father Sardarji Singh were pulled out of the hiding place on second floor, beaten badly and were thrown down from the roof,” she said, adding that she herself received injuries in the attack.

During the proceedings, Kaur had also identified Kumar, who was present in the court.

“I could recognise the accused Sajjan Kumar, as we used to visit him for getting help in making ration card, passport. We used to visit the accused for getting the papers stamped as he was the MP/MLA,” she said.

She further named other persons who were shot dead on the same date by the mob. The injured and the family members of victims were taken to the police station and relief camps by police and army respectively.

She told the court that she had named Kumar earlier also.

Before Kaur, another key prosecution witness Sheela Kaur had identified Kumar as the one who had instigated the mob in Sultanpuri.

The case was transferred from Karkardooma court to Patiala House court here by the Delhi High Court, which had directed the district judge to video record the proceedings at the cost of the accused.

Kumar and two other accused, Brahmanand Gupta and Ved Prakash, had said that they were ready to bear the expenses of the videography of proceedings.

The three accused are facing trial on charges of murder and rioting in the case pertaining to killing of Surjit Singh in Sultanpuri.

The proceedings in the case were earlier stayed after the victim and complainant Joginder Singh approached the high court seeking transfer of the case while alleging that evidence was not being properly recorded.

1984 riots accused Sajjan Kumar confessed to presence at incident site.

 The Delhi High Court today sought a reply from Congress leader Sajjan Kumar on a letter written to it alleging that the accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case have confessed to being present at the spot where the violent incidents had occurred.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra also directed the CBI to file its stand on the letter, purportedly written by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) seeking action against the accused for their alleged involvement in the crime.

As per Kumar’s advocate Anil Sharma, a letter and CDs of DSGMC were tagged to the file of one of the convicts 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.

Former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and two others were held guilty in the case. Kumar was acquitted in the case by the trial court.

The letter and the CDs were placed before the bench during the hearing of the CBI’s appeal against Kumar’s acquittal in the murder of five Sikhs in the Raj Nagar area.

It, however, separated the DSGMC letter and CDs and turned it into a PIL on which it issued notice to the CBI and the Congress leader and sought their responses before the next date of hearing, April 12.

Kumar’s lawyer opposed the notice and the complaint and said they should be given the same. He also questioned its maintainability.

The bench, however, said that all the parties should reply to it and the court will accordingly decide at an appropriate stage, whether the letter and CDs would be treated as an evidence in the appeals pending consideration before it. It also said that a copy of the letter and CDs would be provided to all the parties in the PIL.

The trial court had awarded life term in May 2013 to Khokhar, Bhagmal and Girdhari Lal and three-year jail term to two others -former MLA Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar. The convicts have challenged their conviction and jails terms awarded by the trial court.

The CBI too has filed an appeal seeking enhancement of sentence of the convicts and the acquittal of Kumar, alleging that all of them were engaged in “a planned communal riot” and “religious cleansing”.

The high court had on March 29 last year issued show cause notice to 11 accused, including Khokhar and Yadav, in five other 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases in which they had been acquitted by the trial court.

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”.

The bench had issued notice on the complaints filed regarding the violent incidents on November 1 and 2, 1984 in Delhi Cantonment area.

Sajjan should not have been given anticipatory bail: SIT to Delhi HC

Sajjan should not have been given anticipatory bail: SIT to Delhi HC
Sajjan should not have been given anticipatory bail: SIT to Delhi HC

Congress leader Sajjan Kumar should not have been granted anticipatory bail by a trial court in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, the Delhi High Court was today told by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the SIT which is probing the charges against him, told Justice Anu Malhotra that witnesses were not coming forward as the Congress leader was not in custody.

Kumar was granted anticipatory bail by a trial court on December 21 last year in a case of killing of three Sikhs during the riots which had occurred after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The ASG argued before the high court that the trial court had erred in granting the relief to the former MP on the ground of lapse of time.

Jain said the witnesses and their families as well as the kin of the victims of the riots had fled to Punjab fearing for their lives and it was only now that they were coming forward.

He said that witnesses would be required to be confronted with Kumar and if he was out of custody, the witnesses would not come forward and gave the example of one such person whose statement was recorded before a court in Chandigarh.

Jain said that truth will remain as such even with the passage of time. He also denied that the reopening of the case was politically motivated.

There are two cases filed against Kumar falling in the jurisdiction of Janakpuri and Vikaspuri police stations in West Delhi.

The complaint in Janakpuri pertains to the killing of two Sikhs, Sohan Singh and his son-in-law Avtar Singh, on November 1, 1984 and in the other, where another Sikh, Gurcharan Singh, was burnt on November 2, 1984 in the jurisdiction of Vikaspuri Police Station. Gurcharan, who was half burnt, had remained bed-ridden for 29 years. He died three years ago.

( Source – PTI )

HC grants bail to 1984 anti-Sikh riots case convict

The Delhi High Court today granted bail on medical grounds to an 89-year-old convict serving life term in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

A vacation bench of Justices Manmohan and Yogesh Khanna released retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal on bail till July four on the ground that he has to undergo a surgery.

The court granted him the relief till July four instead of three months sought by the convict, so that the bench which is hearing the anti-Sikh riots cases can take a final decision on his plea.

“A prayer is made for suspension of sentence for three months. In view of the circumstances placed before us, the sentence of the appellant is suspended till July 4,” the bench said in its interim order.

The convict is already on interim bail since March 24 on medical grounds.

Bhagmal, through his counsel, had stated that he is suffering from enlarged prostrate for which he has to undergo surgery which would require stay in the hospital.

Taking note of his medical condition, the bench extended his bail on furnishing of a personal bond of Rs 25,000 with one surety of the like amount.

It directed Bhagmal to give the address at which he would be available and the mobile number on which he can be contacted by the CBI during the interim suspension of his sentence.

The bench asked the convict not to get in touch with any witness or the legal heirs of the deceased.

“In case, there is a violation of this condition, it will be open to the CBI to move an application for recall of this order,” it said, adding that Bhagmal shall not leave the National Capital Territory of Delhi without its permission.

Bhagmal, former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, 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 Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

They had challenged their conviction and the sentence awarded by the trial court in May 2013.

The trial court had acquitted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar but awarded life term to Bhagmal, Khokhar and Girdhari Lal and three-year jail term to two others former MLA Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar.

The convicts have filed appeals before the High Court while CBI too has filed an appeal alleging that they were engaged in “a planned communal riot” and “religious cleansing”. The agency has also appealed against acquittal of Kumar.

The high court had on March 29 this year issued show cause notices to 11 accused including Khokhar and Yadav in five 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases.

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”.

The bench had issued notices on the complaints filed regarding the violent incidents on November 1 and 2, 1984 in the Delhi Cantonment area.

What action taken on witness claim agnst Tytler

What action taken on witness claim agnst Tytler
What action taken on witness claim agnst Tytler

A Delhi court today asked CBI to inform it about the efforts made by it to ascertain claims of controversial arms dealer Abhishek Verma that Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, who was given a clean chit in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, influenced a witness and made hawala transactions.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate SPS Laler asked the question to CBI prosecutor after hearing arguments of the counsel for riots victims on a protest petition challenging the third closure report in the case.

“Just clarify what efforts have been made by you (CBI) to find out what witness no. 8 Abhishek Verma is saying is truth or lie,” the magistrate asked the CBI.

The prosecutor, however, sought time to reply to the query after which the court fixed the matter for October 28.

Regarding the argument of senior advocate H S Phoolka, representing the victims who have sought the court’s direction to CBI to lodge an FIR against Tytler for offences of influencing witness and hawala transactions, the prosecutor said CBI is a central agency and the court cannot direct it to lodge FIR.

The prosecutor said as per a Supreme Court judgement, the court can direct State Police to register an FIR but not CBI.

During the arguments on the protest petition, Phoolka contended that keeping in view the seriousness of the offence the court should not accept the closure report.

He said earlier when witness Narinder Singh was giving statement in favour of Tytler, CBI was able to trace him and record it and now when he was deposing against him, the agency says he was not available.

He argued that Tytler had sent Narinder Singh, son of witness Surinder Singh, to Canada and through him the Congress leader was putting pressure on his father to change the statement and depose in his favour.

“Now CBI asks the poor complainant, a widow, to trace out the witness who gives statement against Tytler. Narinder’s information is available with the embassy and they do not need the witness for that. Narinder’s whereabouts were known to CBI in 2008 when he was in Canada, he is still there and we have given his phone number to the agency and it is still same,” the counsel said.

He also said like earlier two closure reports, CBI was “very keen and anxious” to give a clean chit to Tytler so they can file the third closure report.

“Victim has filed a plea in this court that charges of influencing witness and hawala transactions were clearly made out against Tytler. But, the prosecutor gave a statement in the court that nothing was done in this regard and no FIR or investigation was done by the agency,” Phoolka said while concluding his arguments on the protest petition.

 

( Source – PTI )

1984 riots: Court reserves order afresh on transfer pleas

A Delhi court has reserved its order for February 12 on pleas of three accused who, along with Congress leader Sajjan Kumar are facing trial in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case seeking transfer of the case on the ground of jurisdiction.

District Judge Rakesh Siddhartha, who recently took over the charge, heard the arguments afresh on the applications and fixed the matter for pronouncing order on it.

“Arguments heard afresh on application moved on behalf of accused persons for transfer of this case. To come up for orders on February 12, 2015,” the court said.

Earlier, the order on the pleas was reserved for January 31 by District Judge Talwant Singh, who got transfered to another court before pronouncing the verdict.

Sajjan Kumar, Brahmanand Gupta, Peeriya and Ved Prakash are facing trial on charges of murder and rioting in a case of killing of Surjit Singh in Sultanpuri area of West Delhi.

The pleas were moved by Gupta, Peeriya and Ved Prakash for transfer of the case from Karkardooma district court in East Delhi to Rohini district court on ground of jurisdiction.

The counsel for Gupta and Peeriya had argued the case needed to be transferred to its respective district Rohini for want of jurisdiction as the alleged occurrence pertained to Sultanpuri area and not the jurisdiction of this court.

Ved Prakash’s advocate had argued that the court should implement the Delhi High Court’s 2013 order asking sessions judges to transfer the cases as per their jurisdiction
CBI prosecutor D P Singh, however, had opposed the pleas saying as per the provisions of CrPC, district judge does not have the power to transfer a case from his division to another and this power lies only with the high court.

He had sought dismissal of the pleas contending that when the HC’s 2013 order was passed, this case was already pending but the accused did not raise this issue at that time
“This is blatantly an attempt for forum shopping,” he had argued.

The court in July 2010 had framed various charges, including murder and rioting, against Kumar, Gupta, Peeriya, Khushal Singh and Ved Prakash in connection with killing of a man in Sultanpuri in the riots that had occurred after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. Accused Khushal Singh has since died.
The trial court had also framed charges for the offence of spreading enmity between two communities against the accused in the case.

Life term for three, 2 escape with 3-year jailterm in ’84 riots case

Three persons were today awarded life imprisonment in a 29-year-old 1984 anti-Sikh riots case by a Delhi court which said the offences were grave as the victims of a particular community had been targeted and the acts of the convicts were most gruesome in nature.

District Judge J R Aryan gave life term to ex-councillor Balwan Khokkar, Girdhari Lal and retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal for murder and rioting in the case in which senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was acquitted on April 30, which CBI had reportedly said would challenge in the Delhi High Court.

The court rejected CBI’s plea for death sentence to Balwan, Lal and Bhagmal, saying their offence does not come under the category of rarest of rare warranting capital punishment.

“They had no special or personal animosity towards anyone or the deceased individually. The assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had blindfolded those youths and unfortunately, there was no leadership to bridle the mob frenzy unleashed with all cruelty,” it said.

Two other convicts, ex-MLA Mahinder Yadav and Kishan Khokkar were awarded three-year imprisonment and the court rejected their plea to release them on probation.

Kumar was acquitted by the court which held that he deserved “benefit of doubt” since one of the victims and key witness Jagdish Kaur did not name him as an accused in her statement recorded by the Justice Ranganath Mishra panel in 1985.

In his ten-page order on sentence, the court said “there cannot be two opinions that offences committed in this case were grave where victims of a particular community had been targeted for killing and destroying their properties.

“This court has already taken the facts into consideration that there were 341 killings in the area of police station Delhi Cantt of this case itself.”

While holding that the crime doesn’t fall in the rarest of rare category warranting extreme punishment, the judge said “what the accused have done were no doubt acts of the most gruesome nature.

“But we bear in mind that they were in rampage and they ran berserk, unguided by a sense or reason and triggered only by a demented psyche,” he said.

The court also cited a Supreme judgement in another anti-Sikh riots case in which the death sentence awarded to the convicts by the trial court and upheld by the Delhi High Court was commuted to life imprisonment by the apex court.

“In a case in which four sons of a helpless woman were ‘roasted to death in front of her eyes’ on November 2, 1984 at Trilokpuri locality here, the convict was sentenced to death and it was affirmed by the Delhi High Court but the Supreme Court had commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment,” ASJ Aryan said.

The judge also rejected the plea of Yadav and Kishan Khokkar for granting them benefit of probation, as it said, “it was not warranted as this was a case of widespread rioting and violence to the extent of killing and destroying the properties of the victims.

On defence counsel’s argument on lapse of time, the judge said “the counsel tried to impress upon this court that 29 years have lapsed since the incident of this crime had occurred. To my mind, this should not be a mitigating circumstance and seriousness and gravity of the offence does not get diluted by that factor.”

“These two accused are kept at par with other three accused (held guilty of murder) as far as sentence for their conviction under section 147 (rioting) and 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons) IPC is concerned,” the judge said.

Earlier in the day, while arguing on the quantum of sentence, CBI prosecutor R S Cheema submitted before the court “the evidence showed that the scale of crime was so serious that adult male Sikhs were killed after being searched and chased by the mob.

“Complainant Jagdish Kaur’s son Gurpreet Singh, 18, ran for his life when he was located by the mob, captured, assaulted and burnt him,” he said.

The case, in which the five persons were held guilty, relates to the death of five Sikhs – Kehar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Raghuvender Singh, Narender Pal Singh and Kuldeep Singh – by the mob in Raj Nagar area in Delhi Cantonment. They were members of the same family.

The court also slapped a fine of Rs 1,000 on each of the five convicts.

Yadav and Kishan Kokkar were granted bail by the court.

High security arrangements had been made in and around and inside the court complex and the media was also barred from entering the courtroom.

Seeking death penalty for Balwan Khokkar, CBI said “such a person leading the mob and then assuming political power indicated the circumstances as to how the society was in need of protection from such kinds of don.”

Regarding Capt Bhagmal, CBI said “the accused was serving as a officer in Navy and thus being the member of the armed force, he was supposed to protect the country but he became a menace to the society and all these accused indulged in brutal killings.”

At this, Bhagmal started narrating the sequence of events to the court and said he had rather helped the victims during the riots.

He was, however, intervened by the judge who said “you have already been convicted and we have crossed this stage, so there is no point of addressing or submitting these things now. You can state all this before the superior courts.”

 

PTI

Sikh protests at 10 Janpath, Congress office

On the second day of protests, Sikh groups shouted slogans outside Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence and the Congress office Thursday, over the acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.
Burning effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sajjan Kumar, different Sikh groups gathered outside Gandhi’s 10 Janpath residence.

“Over a thousand protesters marched towards Sonia Gandhi’s residence, breaking two barricades. But they were blocked by the policemen. Similar scenes were witnessed at 24 Akbar Road (the Congress office).”

A traffic police officer told IANS that several roads in central Delhi had been blocked  to prevent angry protesters from reaching the Congress office and the residence of Sonia Gandhi. Among the roads closed to traffic and pedestrians were Akbar Road, Motilal Nehru Marg, Krishna Menon Marg, Mansingh Road, Maulana Azad Road and Janpath.

Police barricades, however, failed to deter protesters who stood as close as they could to the places they wished to reach, shouting slogans.

On Wednesday, protesters had blocked busy roads in the national capital. Metro services were also disrupted by the protests for a few hours.

The Sikh groups are angry at the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar by a city court Tuesday in a case related to the killing of five people in the Delhi Cantonment area during violence against Sikhs following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi Oct 31, 1984.

The court convicted five others in the same case.

Sajjan Kumar’s acquittal comes almost three decades after an estimated 3,000 Sikhs were killed in three days of riots in India’s capital and elsewhere.

 

PTI

Anti-Sikh riots case: HC verdict on Sajjan’s plea tomorrow

On a plea of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar against a trial court order framing charges against him in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case related to the killings of six persons the Delhi High court will pronounce its verdict.

Justice Suresh Kait, who had reserved the order in December last year, will pronounce the verdict at 10.30 am tomorrow.

Besides the Congress leader, co-accused Ved Prakash Pial alias Vedu Pradhan and Brahmanand Gupta had also moved the high court against framing of charges against them in the case.

Complainant Sheela Kaur had filed a cross-appeal in the high court seeking to invoke the charges of criminal conspiracy against Kumar and other four accused in the case.

Earlier in July 2010, a lower court had framed charges against Kumar, Brahmanand Gupta, Peru, Khushal Singh and Ved Prakash in connection with the case in which six persons were killed in Sultanpuri in anti-Sikhs riots that erupted in Delhi and elsewhere after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.

Besides charges of murder and rioting, the court had also framed charges for the offence of spreading enmity between two communities against the accused in the case.

The CBI had filed two charge sheets against Kumar and others in January, 2010 in the riots cases registered in 2005 on the recommendation of Justice GT Nanavati Commission which probed the sequence of events leading to the riots.