The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a plea of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) challenging the anticipatory bail to senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, an accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases.
The top court observed that 34 years have passed since the incident and it is high time that these cases were tried and taken to the logical conclusion.
A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan issued notice to Kumar and sought his response in two weeks.
“34-years of incident have passed. It’s high time that these cases are tried at the earliest and taken to their logical conclusion,” the bench said.
The top court also took exception to a Delhi High Court order running into 200 pages upholding the trial court’s decision granting anticipatory bail to Kumar in the case and said it could have been done in just 40-50 pages.
During the hearing, the bench asked Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh about the stage of investigation in the case against Kumar.
Singh replied the investigation was started against him only in 2016 and now he “comes to SIT armed with a battery of lawyers and dictates” his statement to the investigating officer.
He said that an eye witness, Harvinder Singh, had given an affidavit to Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission in which he had said that his father and brother in-law were killed by a mob outside the Congress office in Uttam Nagar in West Delhi on November 2, 1984.
He said no action was taken on his affidavit at that time. But in 1992, the same affidavit was examined by the Committee of Justice J D Jain and D K Agarwal and two FIRs were registered on cases of arson and rioting.
“The said FIRs were investigated by the riots cell of the Delhi Police. However, the files were later closed as untraced,” Singh said, adding that a SIT constituted in 2015 again examined Harvinder Singh and recorded his statement under section 161 of CrPC on September 5, 2016 in which named Sajjan Kumar, then a Congress MP, as the person leading the mob.
“During the investigation, the SIT also traced two other victims of the incident that took place on November 1, 1984. The said witnesses have also stated that Sajjan Kumar was the one who was leading the mob when the offences were committed on that day,” he said.
Singh said the SIT had summoned Kumar for questioning and he had appeared before the probe team on November 21, 2016 but did not cooperate.
“We could have arrested him on the basis of the statements of the witnesses but we gave him opportunity to present his case. He approached trial court for anticipatory bail when he was issued second summon but trial court granted him anticipatory bail,” he said.
Singh said the trial court granted him pre-arrest bail on the ground that there was a long delay between the date of the incident and the investigation now being undertaken by the SIT.
“When the SIT challenged the order before Delhi High Court, it upheld the order of trial court in its 200-page order. The order says that evidence could be tested during the trial but in the end says there is no evidence. This is contrary to the established procedure of law,” the law officer claimed.
To this, the bench asked Singh whether the evidences were considered at the time of anticipatory bail.
Singh said, “Yes. This is totally contrary to the established procedure of law”.
He said that even the trial court order was contrary to the Gujarat High Court order in the case of Maya Kodnani, pertaining to the 2002 Gujarat riots where it was said that when powerful persons are accused, the long delay would not be a sufficient ground for disbelieving the allegations against the accused.
“High Court had erred in failing to notice that three witnesses have given corroborating statements naming Sajjan Kumar as the person leading the mob on the date of fateful incident,” Singh said.
The ASG said now after getting anticipatory bail, whenever Kumar is summoned, he comes to the questioning with a battery of lawyers and and dictates his statement to the investigating officer.
The bench after considering the submission of the ASG issued notice to Kumar and listed the matter after two weeks.
The Delhi High Court had on February 22 upheld a trial court order granting anticipatory bail to Congress leader Kumar in two anti-Sikh riots cases of 1984, saying that according to records, he was available throughout the investigation.
The Congress leader was granted anticipatory bail by the trial court on December 21, 2016 in two cases of killing of three Sikhs during the riots which had occurred after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Kumar has submitted that his name was never taken earlier and it was a case of fresh allegations coming up after 32 years.
(With inputs from agencies)