1984 Anti-Sikh Riots case: Sajjan Kumar gets life term

1984 Anti-Sikh Riots case: Sajjan Kumar gets life term

The Delhi High Court on Monday reversed the acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case and sentenced him to life imprisonment for criminal conspiracy to commit murder.

The Delhi High Court on Monday convicted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in an anti-Sikh riots case and awarded him "imprisonment till remainder of his natural life", holding the mass killings in Delhi and elsewhere in November 1984 were in fact crimes against humanity.

"Our criminal justice system stands severely tested, it is essential, in a democracy governed by the rule of law to be able to call out those responsible for such mass crimes," the high court said.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Girl directed the former Outer Delhi MP, Kumar, to surrender to serve the prison term by December 31, saying the criminals responsible for the mass crimes have enjoyed political patronage and managed to evade prosecution and punishment.

"What happened in the aftermath of the assassination of the then PM was carnage of unbelievable proportions in which over 2,700 Sikhs were murdered in Delhi alone. The law and order machinery clearly broke down and it was literally a "free for all‟ situation which persisted. The aftershocks of those atrocities are still being felt," the court said. 

Acquittal reversed

The high court overturned the trial court verdict of April 30, 2013 acquitting him in the case related to the killings of five persons in Delhi Cantt area here that took place after assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.

"The accused in this case have been brought to justice primarily on account of the courage and perseverance of three eyewitnesses Jagdish Kaur, Jagsher Singh and Nirpreet Kaur," the court said. 

It noted that it was only after the CBI entered the scene, that they were able to be assured and they spoke up. "Admirably, they stuck firm to their truth at the trial," the court said.

The husband of Jagdish, her son and three cousins were killed and Nirpreet saw a Gurudawar being burnt down and her father being set ablaze alive by the raging mob.

"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,‟ the court said. 

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, it added.

"In the summer of 1947 in partition, several people were massacred, 37 year later, Delhi was the witness of a similar tragedy, " the high court said as it pronounced the judgement on an appeal filed by the CBI.

Apart from the life imprisonment, the high court also imposed Rs 5 lakh fine on Sajjan Kumar, a prominent Jat leader of Delhi.

The high court in its 207-page judgement applauded the witnesses for showing the strength.

"It is important to assure those countless victims waiting patiently that despite the challenges, truth will prevail and justice will be done," the court said.

The case against Sajjan Kumar was reinvestigated on a recommendation made by Justice G T Nanavati Commission set up by the previous NDA government. 

According to CBI special prosecutor, senior advocate R S Cheema, despite 17 affidavits by witnesses before the Justice R N Mishra Commission, no case was registered against Sajjan Kumar.

"There was an utter failure to register separate FIRs with respect to the five deaths that form the subject matter of the present appeals. The failure to record any incident whatsoever in the DDR and the lack of mention of PW-1‟s statement therein, amongst other circumstances, established the apathy of the Delhi Police and their active connivance in the brutal murders being perpetrated," the high court said. 

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