iconimg Saturday, July 04, 2015

Press Trust Of India
New Delhi , July 31, 2013
Witnesses in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case involving senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar on Tuesday approached a Delhi court seeking directions to the government to provide them security and means of livelihood so that they can give "uninfluenced and unbiased" testimony. The witnesses, who are also victims, have filed the application in the riots case in which the Delhi high court had recently refused to quash murder and rioting charges against Kumar and others regarding the killing of six persons in the Sultanpuri area here.

District judge JR Aryan, who orally asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to provide security to the witnesses, would pass written orders on the application on Wednesday.

The court has fixed August 13 for deciding the date to begin recording of testimonies of prosecution witnesses.

Complainant Sheela Kaur, in her plea filed through senior advocate HS Phoolka, said as the court was about to begin recording of statements of witnesses, there would be threat to their life, while asking the government to spend at least the same amount on witnesses as was being spent by it on the accused.

"It is in the interest of justice that the government should be directed to provide sufficient security and alternative livelihood to the witnesses and spend at least the same amount on victims who are witnesses equal to the amount beings spent by the government on the accused," the plea said.

It claimed that Kumar was being given "VVIP treatment and has been provided 40-50 security personnel, government vehicles and accommodation in huge bungalows".

The witnesses sought security so that they could give their statements without any insecurity, threat and fear and their testimony remained "uninfluenced, unbiased and factual".

The plea said the Supreme Court as well as Law Commission of India had more than once mentioned about the Witness Protection Programme and emphasised its importance.

In July 2010, the trial court had framed charges against Kumar, Brahmanand Gupta, Peru, Khushal Singh and Ved Prakash in connection with the killing of six persons in the riots that had occurred after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.

Besides charges of murder and rioting, the trial court had also framed charges for the offence of spreading enmity between two communities against the accused.

The counsel for the victims told the court that there were several people in the area around the witnesses' houses who troubled them everyday on one pretext or the other. He said the witnesses belonged to the poor strata of society and were "under constant threat from accused Sajjan Kumar".

The application also said that most of the witnesses were earning their livelihood by cleaning utensils in houses of people and doing other odd jobs.

"Most of these witnesses are scared and are under constant insecurity that as soon as the house owners where they are working come to know that they are witnesses against Kumar, they would lose their odd jobs which are sustaining them," it said.

Of the 11 prosecution witnesses who had made statements to the CBI against Kumar, prime witness Bhagwani Bai died two days ago and Kamla Devi passed away nearly six months ago. Another witness, Jatni Kaur, is seriously ill.

Due to the pending plea of Kumar and others for quashing of charges, the proceedings in the case were stayed by the high court in 2010.

The court had also dismissed the plea of Sheela Kaur, who had filed a cross-appeal seeking to invoke an additional charge of criminal conspiracy against Kumar and four others in the case.

The CBI had filed two chargesheets against Kumar and others in January 2010 in the riots cases registered in 2005 on the recommendation of the justice GT Nanavati Commission, which had probed the sequence of events leading to the violence.