In court order on Sajjan Kumar, a throwback to Partition, mass killings
In its order sentencing Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to jail for the remainder of his life in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, the Delhi High Court on Monday made a stinging observation regarding mass crimes and political patronage. “The criminals responsible for the mass crimes have enjoyed political patronage and managed to evade prosecution and punishment. Bringing such criminals to justice poses a serious challenge to our legal system,” the court observed.
Saying that it was a challenge to bring those accused in such cases to justice because they enjoyed political patronage, the court referred to other incidents of mass killings that had taken place in the country.
In its order, the court said, “Neither crimes against humanity nor genocide is part of our domestic law of crime. This loophole needs to be addressed urgently.”
In its order, the Delhi High Court on Monday reversed the trial court’s acquittal of Sajjan Kumar, 73, and had held him guilty in the murders of five people of a family in November 1984. The court also levied a fine of Rs 5 lakh on him. The riots in 1984 had taken place after the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31.
Listing out the incidents where minorities were targeted in such violent crimes, the court said, “In India, the riots in early November 1984 in which in Delhi alone 2,733 Sikhs and nearly 3,350 all over the country were brutally murdered was neither the first instance of a mass crime nor, tragically, the last. The mass killings in Punjab, Delhi and elsewhere during the country’s Partition remains a collective painful memory as is the killings of innocent Sikhs in November 1984. There has been a familiar pattern of mass killings in Mumbai in 1993, in Gujarat in 2002, in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008 and in Muzaffarnagar in UP in 2013 to name a few.”
Noting that all the mass crimes had one common thread of minorities being targeted, the court said that the attacks were spearheaded by political actors in power.
“The criminals responsible for the mass crimes have enjoyed political patronage and managed to evade prosecution and punishment. Bringing such criminals to justice poses a serious challenge to our legal system. As these appeals themselves demonstrate, decades pass by before they can be made answerable...” the court said in its order.