New Delhi: With the Delhi High Court rejecting former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar’s plea for an extension of his deadline to surrender, he is likely to do so before a court here on December 31. Kumar’s lawyer reportedly said his options were running out as the Supreme Court was not likely to grant a hearing to his appeal against the high court verdict during the vacation, which is ending on January 1. (Also read: Delhi Assembly Passes Resolution For Withdrawal of Rajiv Gandhi’s Bharat Ratna Over 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots)
“We will comply with the high court’s judgment,” his counsel Anil Kumar Sharma told PTI. The 73-year-old former Congress leader was sentenced to life for the “remainder of his natural life” by the Delhi High Court on December 17 in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.
In its judgement, the high court had noted that over 2,700 Sikhs were killed in the riots which was, indeed, a “carnage of unbelievable proportions”. It also said riots were a “crime against humanity” perpetrated by those who enjoyed “political patronage” and aided by an “indifferent” law enforcement agency.
The court had said that there had been a familiar pattern of mass killings since the Partition, like in Mumbai in 1993, Gujarat in 2002 and Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh in 2013, and the “common” feature of each was the “targeting of minorities” with the attacks being “spearheaded by the dominant political actors, facilitated by the law enforcement agencies”.
The case in which Kumar was convicted related to the killing of five Sikhs in Raj Nagar part-I area in Palam Colony in South West Delhi 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 Sikh bodyguards.
On December 21, the high court had rejected Kumar’s plea seeking extension till January 30 to surrender. The former Congress leader had sought more time to surrender, saying he had to settle the family affairs related to his children and property and that he also needed time to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court verdict.
Sharma said they had removed the objections in their appeal filed in the apex court but since the court was on vacation till January 1, it was not likely to be taken up for hearing by December 31 and also the chances of mentioning for an urgent listing of the appeal was not there.
The Supreme Court will open on January 2 after the winter break. “We have removed the objections and the appeal in the apex court has been numbered. Presently, there are no benches in the Supreme Court. Even if we mention the matter for urgent hearing, the registrar will decide whether it will be heard by the bench. No time is left now,” Kumar’s counsel said.
He said they were yet to engage a senior counsel who would represent Kumar before the apex court. The former Congress leader had approached the Supreme Court on December 22, challenging the high court’s judgment.