The Delhi High Court on Friday granted anticipatory bail to Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and his co-accused in two separate 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases of Sultanpuri and Delhi Cantonment police stations here.
Granting bail, Justice A.K. Pathak said: “I am of the view that it would not be justifiable to detain the petitioners in custody after a lapse of 25 years of the incident.’’
“Accordingly it is ordered that in the event of their arrest, petitioners shall be released on bail, subject to furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs.50,000 each with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of Investigating Officer/Arresting Officer/SHO,’’ Justice Pathak said in his 25-page order.
He further said the fact that in one of the cases the accused persons had been already tried and acquitted earlier could not be wished away while deciding their bail applications. “This fact may weigh as one of the factor for deciding as to whether petitioners are entitled to anticipatory bail or not,’’ the judgment said.
The Court also took into account the delay in the prosecution of the accused persons while granting bail to them.
“Twenty-five years have gone by and this delay undoubtedly tilts the balance in favour of the petitioners, at least for the purpose of grant of bail to them,’’ Justice Pathak said.
The Court also dismissed argument by the Central Bureau of Investigation that if the petitioners were enlarged on bail, it would hamper fair trial.
“I do not find much force in the contentions of learned senior counsel that in case petitioners are enlarged on bail it will hamper fair trial and witnesses may not depose against the petitioners due to the fear and threat. Admittedly all along for the last 25 years petitioners have remained at large as they were not in custody. The CBI conducted investigation almost for about five years,’’ Justice Pathak said.
“ During this period, the CBI did not deem it fit to arrest any of the petitioners. In spite of petitioners being at large, witnesses came forward and made statements before the CBI. There is no specific allegation against the petitioners of having threatened or influenced any of the witnesses so as to refrain any of them from making statement against them. Besides this, it is evident from the facts that after the unfortunate and appalling incident the relatives or the family members of victims were not left alone to fend for themselves as members of various Commission/Committees including eminent jurists had been visiting the affected areas and even met the families of the victims residing in camps and interacted, counselled, encouraged, offered support to them right from the beginning,’’ the judgment said.
“Indeed, it is true that offence with which petitioners have been charged by the CBI is of grave nature and ordinarily in such cases courts would be slow in admitting the accused on anticipatory bail, in the face of statements of eye witnesses. However, in the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case I am of the view that it would not be justifiable to detain the petitioners in custody…’’ the judgment said.