New Delhi: Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case on December 17, on Thursday moved an application before the Delhi High Court and has sought 30 days’ time to surrender. The court is likely to hear the application tomorrow. Also Read - Renowned Artist Satish Gujral Passes Away at 94
Kumar, who was directed by the high court on Monday to surrender before authorities by December 31, sought more time saying he has to settle family affairs. Also Read - COVID-19: Delhi HC Asks MEA to Ensure Safety of Indian Students Stranded in Kazakhstan
Advocate Anil Sharma, representing Kumar, said they need some more time to file appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the high court’s verdict and Kumar has to settle his family matters relating to his children and property. Also Read - All Legal Remedies Exhausted, Nirbhaya Convicts to be Hanged in Tihar Jail at 5:30 AM Today
Kumar surrendered his mobile phone before the court following the directions of the high court in its order convicting him.
The court adjourned the matter for January 22 after he said his main counsel was unavailable.
In the case before the trial court, three persons — Kumar, Brahmanand Gupta and Ved Prakash — are facing trial on charges of murder and rioting pertaining to the killing of Surjit Singh in Sultanpuri.
HS Phoolka, the advocate in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, said that they will oppose the application in the court.
Calling for strengthening of the legal system to ensure perpetrators of mass crimes are made answerable, the court said neither ‘crimes against humanity’ nor ‘genocide’ is part of the domestic law of crime and this loophole needs to be addressed urgently. It also named 2002 post-Godhra Gujarat riots and Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh in 2013 among other mass killings since 1947 where minorities are targeted.
The reversal of 73-year-old Kumar’s acquittal by a trial court cast a shadow on the swearing-in of Kamal Nath as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh with the BJP and ally Akali Dal taking on the Congress leadership over allegations of his culpability in the riots levelled by Sikh groups. Nath said there was no FIR or charge sheet filed against him and questioned the ‘politics’ behind raising of the issue now.
Describing the riots as “crimes against humanity”, the high court awarded Kumar life term for “remainder of his natural life”, convicting him of criminal conspiracy and abetment in commission of crimes of murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of communal harmony and defiling and destruction of a Gurdwara.
The case in which Kumar was convicted related to killing of five Sikhs in Raj Nagar part-I area in Palam Colony in South West Delhi on November 1-2, 1984 during the riots in the national capital and other parts of the country following the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards on October 31.
According to official accounts, 2,733 Sikhs were killed in Delhi alone and nearly 3,350 all over the country between November 1 and 4, 1984.