Hearing in an appeal by the CBI in the Delhi High Court against acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-sikh riots case has hardly made any headway even six years after the agency filed it.
On March 5, 2007, the court had fast tracked the case on requests from the CBI and relatives of the victims. Though the day-to-day hearing ordered by the court never took off, most of the time the court was forced to adjourn the matter following requests from the CBI or lawyers representing kin of victims in the 15 hearings after it.
A Bench of Justices B.D. Ahmed and P.K. Bhasin gave a ‘final opportunity’ to Anwar Kaur, the widow of one Navin Singh, killed in the riot, a witness Fota Singh and Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee who have challenged the acquittal along with the CBI, to address on the maintainability of their petitions at a time when the CBI has already filed an appeal. They have to begin arguments on May 21.
“You file petitions for early hearing and then seek adjournments after adjournments. You should abide by commitments,” Justice Ahmed told lawyers representing all of them when they sought a ‘short’ adjournment on the ground that a senior lawyer arguing for all the petitioners was not available.
“The petitioners are yet to address on maintainability of their petitions in view of the state through the CBI having filed an appeal. Thus before proceeding to hear the matters on merit, the petitioners in the aforesaid revision petitions are required to address on maintainability of their petitions,” the court said on July 1, 2008.
The CBI’s case was based on the statement filed by Kaur, who had told police that a mob instigated by Sajjan Kumar had killed her husband Navin Singh, in front of her residence at Sultanpuri. But it collapsed when she declared in the trial court that she was not sure whether it was Kumar who led the mob.
The CBI said the police, who initially handled the case, failed to investigate it properly. In its appeal it said Sajjan Kumar’s acquittal was the result of the trial court not evaluating the statements of the prosecution witnesses properly.