New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear in May next year a plea by former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, who was awarded life term by the Delhi High Court in a 1984 anti-Sikh riot case, seeking suspension of his sentence. A bench comprising Justices SA Bobde and BR Gavai said that it is not an “ordinary case” and requires a hearing before passing any order.
Kumar, 73, who is lodged in jail, resigned from the Congress after he was convicted and awarded life term by the high court. The case in which he was convicted and sentenced to relates to the killing of five Sikhs in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar Part I area of Southwest Delhi on 1-2 November 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 31 October 1984, by her two Sikh bodyguards.
Sajjan Kumar had been sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty in a 1984 Sikh pogrom case. The Delhi High Court had in April pronounced the verdict on appeals filed against the trial court’s decision to acquit Kumar. A two-judge bench of the Delhi High Court reversed his acquittal and pronounced him guilty after concluding arguments on 29 October on the appeals filed by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation in a case related to the killing of five Sikh men in the Raj Nagar area of Delhi.
“It is important to assure the victims that despite the challenges truth will prevail,” the High Court had said, adding that Sajjan Kumar enjoyed political patronage and continued to evade justice. The former Congressman has challenged in the apex court the Delhi High Court’s verdict of 17 December last year that awarded him life imprisonment for the “remainder of his natural life” in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.
The high court had convicted and sentenced Kumar for the offences of criminal conspiracy and abetment in the commission of crimes of murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of communal harmony and defiling and destruction of a gurdwara.
It had also upheld the conviction and varying sentences awarded by a trial court to five others — former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and ex-MLAs Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar. The high court had set aside the trial court’s 2010 verdict, which had acquitted Kumar in the case. Kumar had surrendered before a trial court here on 31 December 2018, to serve the sentence in pursuance of the high court’s verdict.