Sajjan Kumar’s appeal against conviction to be heard by another Supreme Court bench
Justice Sanjiv Khanna recused himself from hearing the appeal when it came up before a bench comprising him and led by chief justice Ranjan Gogoi.Updated: Feb 26, 2019 02:01 IST
Congress leader Sajjan Kumar’s appeal against his conviction and life term jail in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case was not taken up on Monday by the Supreme Court as a judge refused to be part of the bench hearing the matter.
Justice Sanjiv Khanna recused himself from hearing the appeal when it came up before a bench comprising him and led by chief justice Ranjan Gogoi.
“My brother (Justice Khanna) does not want to hear,” the CJI said as soon as the matter came up. He ordered listing of the appeal before an appropriate bench of which justice Khanna is not a part.
Senior advocate HS Phoolka, counsel for the victims, said justice Khanna probably refrained himself because he had in 2015 dealt with a case related to the anti-Sikh riots while he was a judge at the Delhi High Court. Justice Khanna had in October 2015 refused to extend interim bail to Balwan Khokhar, a life-term convict in the case. He had directed Khokhar to surrender.
The SC has already issued notice to the CBI on Kumar’s bail plea and allowed the former Congress leader to file “lengthy list of dates” and “additional facts and grounds” in favour of his appeal.
Kumar (73) had surrendered before a trial court here on December 31, 2018, to serve the sentence after the high court’s December 17 judgment that sentenced him to jail for the “remainder of his natural life.” After his conviction, Kumar had resigned from the Congress.
Kumar was found guilty in a case related to the killing of five Sikhs in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar Part-I on November 1-2, 1984 and burning down of a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar Part-II. The riots had broken out after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, by her two bodyguards.
The HC had also upheld the conviction and sentences awarded by a trial court to five others — Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and former MLAs Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar.
The HC had recorded in its verdict that over 2,700 Sikhs were killed in the national capital during the 1984 riots, which was a “carnage of unbelievable proportions”.