India: 1984 Sikh Genocide – Supreme Court To Hear Sajjan Kumar’s Bail Plea On April 8

DELHI: The Supreme Court Monday said that bail plea of former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, who was sentenced to life term in a 1984 anti-Sikh genocide case, will be heard on April 8 after Justice Sanjiv Khanna once again recused himself from hearing the matter.

On February 25, Justice Khanna had recused himself from hearing Kumar’s plea when he was sitting in a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

Kumar has also challenged the Delhi High Court’s December 17 last year verdict awarding him life imprisonment for the “remainder of his natural life” in the 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.

Sajjan Kumar’s application seeking bail in the case came up for hearing on Monday before a bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and Sanjiv Khanna.

“List the instant application for bail on April 8 before a bench of which one of us (Sanjiv Khanna, J) is not a member,” the bench said in its order.

Kumar had surrendered before a trial court here on December 31, 2018, to serve the sentence in pursuance of the high court’s December 17 verdict.

After his conviction in the case, Kumar resigned from the Congress party.

The CBI has recently told the apex court that Kumar’s plea seeking bail in the case should be dismissed as he has a “large political clout” and is capable of “influencing or terrorising” witnesses in the case pending against him.

It has told the court that fair trial in the pending case would not be possible if Kumar is granted bail.

The top court had earlier admitted Kumar’s appeal for hearing and had also issued notice to the CBI on his bail plea seeking its response.

The high court had convicted and sentenced Kumar to spend the remainder of his life in jail for the offences of criminal conspiracy and abetment in 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.

In its judgment, the high court had noted that thousands of Sikhs were killed in the national capital during the 1984 genocide in a “carnage of unbelievable proportions”.

It had said the massacre was a “crime against humanity” perpetrated by those who enjoyed “political patronage” and aided by an “indifferent” law enforcement agency.

The high court had set aside the trial court’s 2010 verdict which had acquitted Kumar in the case.