SC judge recuses from Sajjan hearing

SC judge recuses from Sajjan hearing

Agency News

The Supreme Court on Monday deferred hearing on former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar's appeal against Delhi High Court's verdict convicting and sentencing him to life imprisonment in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case after Mr. Justice Sanjiv Khanna recused himself from the hearing.

'We have debated on it but can't reveal what transpired between us,' says the Chief Justice  Ranjan Gogoi about Mr. Justice Khanna's decision.

Now the CJI will constitute another Bench that will take up Kumar's appeal.

Kumar (73) had surrendered before a Delhi trial court on December 31 last to serve life sentence awarded to him by the Delhi High Court, which said he has to serve life imprisonment for the 'remainder of his natural life'.

The Supreme Court had on January 14 issued notice to the CBI on former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar's petition challenging the Delhi High Court's verdict sentencing him to life imprisonment in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

Kumar has sought suspension of sentence and grant of bail pending final adjudication of his appeal against the conviction order.

Bringing to justice the first senior Congress functionary for his role in the 1984 carnage, the Delhi High Court had on December 17 last convicted former MP Sajjan Kumar of criminal conspiracy to murder five people of the minority community and sentenced him to imprisonment for the rest of his natural life.

The case related to killing of five Sikhs in Raj Nagar part-I area in Palam Colony in South West Delhi on November 1 and 2, 1984, and burning down a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar part II during that period.

Reversing Sajjan Kumar’s April 30, 2013, acquittal order passed by Delhi’s Karkardooma Courts, in the case pertaining to the killing of five members of a Sikh family in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar on November 1 and 2, 1984, a Delhi High Court Bench headed by Mr. Justice S Muralidhar had said the trial court failed to address the charges of criminal conspiracy against Kumar.

“The criminals escaped prosecution and punishment for over two decades. It took as many as 10 committees and commissions for the investigation into the role of some of them to be entrusted in 2005 to the CBI, 21 years after the occurrence,' the high court had said.

Six accused, including Kumar, were sent for trial in 2010. Three years later, the lower court convicted five of the accused but acquitted him of all the charges.

The high court had upheld the conviction and varying sentences awarded by the trial court to the other five—former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and former MLAs Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar.

It also convicted them for criminal conspiracy to burn down residences of Sikh families and a gurdwara in the area.

The trial court in 2013 had awarded life term to Khokhar, Bhagmal and Lal, and a three-year jail term to Yadav and Kishan Khokhar.

Following the high court verdict, the life term of Khokhar, Bhagmal and Lal has been upheld, and the sentence of Yadav and Kishan Khokar has been enhanced to 10 years in jail.