The Delhi High Court on Monday reversed the acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, sentencing him to life. The bench of justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel observed that there had been an "abject failure" by the agencies investigating the riots, saying "mass killings are a crime against society".
The case pertains to the murder of five members of a Sikh family in Delhi Cantonment's Raj Nagar area on 1 November, 1984, in the riots that broke out after prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated.
In April 2013, a trial court had acquitted Kumar in the case but sentenced three others to life. These were former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal and Girdhari Lal. The court had sentenced two others, former MLAs Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar, to three years in jail. The convicts had challenged their conviction and sentencing in May 2013, and a trial court had acquitted Kumar of all charges.
On Monday, the Delhi High Court sentenced Kumar to life, convicting him "for the offences of criminal conspiracy and abetment in the commission of the crimes of murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of communal harmony, defiling and destruction of a gurdwara by burning". It has ordered him to surrender by 31 December and not leave the city. The bench also extended the jail term of Yadav and Khokhar from three to 10 years.
Recalling the "communal frenzy" unleashed after the assassination of Indira Gandhi on 31 October, 1984, the court observed: "For four days between 1 and 4 November that year, all over Delhi, 2,733 Sikhs were brutally murdered. Their houses were destroyed. In the rest of the country, too, thousands of Sikhs were killed. A majority of the perpetrators of these horrific mass crimes enjoyed political patronage and were aided by an indifferent law enforcement agency. The criminals escaped prosecution and punishment for over two decades."
Here's the full judgment of the Delhi High Court:
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Updated Date: Dec 17, 2018 13:14 PM