1984 anti-Sikh riots: Congress’ Sajjan Kumar convicted, sentenced to life

Common to the instances of mass crimes are the targeting of minorities and the attacks spearheaded by the dominant political actors facilitated by the law enforcement agencies,” the Delhi HC said in its 1984 anti-Sikh riots judgment.

The Delhi High Court Monday sentenced Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to life imprisonment in a case pertaining to the killing of five members of a Sikh family during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

A bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goel also made clear that Kumar’s life imprisonment will be for remainder of his life.

It directed Kumar not to leave the national capital and surrender before the court concerned on or before December 31. The court also imposed a cost of Rs one lakh on Kumar.

It held Kumar guilty of criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity, and acts against communal harmony.

Besides Kumar, the bench upheld the trial court order awarding life term to former congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagalpur and Girdhari Lal. The bench also upheld the conviction of two others in the case.

In its 207-page judgment, the court said:

*This was an extraordinary case where it was going to be impossible to proceed against A-1 (Kumar) in the normal scheme of things because there appeared to be ongoing large-scale efforts to suppress the cases against him by not even recording or registering them. Even if they were registered they were not investigated properly and even the investigations which saw any progress were not carried to the logical end of a charge sheet actually being filed.

* The mass killings of Sikhs between 1st and 4th November 1984 in Delhi and the rest of the country, engineered by political actors with the assistance of the law enforcement agencies, answer the description of crimes against humanity.

* Cases like the present are to be viewed in the larger context of mass crimes that require a different approach and much can be learnt from similar experiences elsewhere.

* Common to the instances of mass crimes are the targeting of minorities and the attacks spearheaded by the dominant political actors facilitated by the law enforcement agencies.

* The criminals responsible for the mass crimes have enjoyed political patronage and managed to evade prosecution and punishment. Bringing such criminals to justice poses a serious challenge to our legal system. Decades pass by before they can be made answerable. This calls for strengthening the legal system. Neither crimes against humanity nor genocide is part of our domestic law of crime.

Kumar was acquitted by a special CBI court on April 30, 2013, while it had held five other accused guilty of the crime.

The trial court had handed three years of jail term to former MLA Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar.

The CBI and victims of the riots had filed appeals against the acquittal of Kumar in the Delhi High Court. The five convicted had also filed appeals against their conviction. All appeals were heard together and the judgment was reserved on October 27.

The incident is related to the murder of five members of a Sikh family in Raj Nagar on November 1, 1984, following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Among the five Sikhs who were killed by the mob were the husband and son of Jagdish Kaur, the complainant, and three brothers of Jagsher Singh. Another prime witness in the case is Nirpreet Kaur.

RS Cheema, Special Public Prosecutor for CBI had informed the High Court during the hearing that 17 affidavits were filed against Kumar before the Mishra Commission, but no case was registered against him.

H S Phoolka, Senior Counsel appearing for the victims argued before the High Court that the accused – Kumar – has always been in a position of influence since 1984 and all attempts to prosecute the accused have been blatantly thwarted. “He has enjoyed impunity and has always been beyond the reach of law”.

Source: The Indian Express


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