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Verdict reserved on Sajjan's plea

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reserved verdict on Congress leader Sajjan Kumar's petition challenging the framing of charges by the trial court against him in a 1984 anti-Sikh riot case.

Earlier, a Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and Anil Dave heard senior counsel Uday Lalit appearing for Mr. Kumar, Additional Solicitor-General Harin Raval for the Central Bureau of Investigation and senior counsel Dushayant Dave for the complainant.

“Bid to delay trial”

Mr. Raval said Mr. Kumar's appeal was meant to delay the trial. The CBI took up investigation after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assurance in Parliament and based on the Nanavati Commission's recommendations. The complicity of the accused in the crime could be proved only at the time of trial and the Delhi High Court rightly declined to interfere with the trial, he argued.

“Politically motivated”

Mr. Kumar had assailed the High Court order contending that the surfacing of witnesses after a gap of two decades created serious doubts about their depositions and their credibility of having witnessed the alleged offence as well as the prosecution case. The inordinate delay in the commencement of the prosecution violated his rights under Article 21.

Moreover, the High Court did not take note of the petitioner's contention that his prosecution was politically motivated and a by-product of media trial. The High Court made some unwarranted observations about police connivance with politicians to stall the trial, and repeatedly referred to the petitioner as a politician, thus implying that the delay was only because of him.

Trial must proceed

Mr. Dushayant Dave said it would be a mockery of justice if the trial was not allowed to be completed.

“This is an extraordinary case which shocked the very foundation of democracy and the rule of law. A large number of people were butchered and slaughtered and for 20 years the Delhi police failed in its duty to apprehend those involved in this heinous crime. Only after the public outcry from civil society was the law set in motion and it must be allowed to be completed to its logical end.” He wanted the trial to proceed further and said the High Court order did not call for interference.

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