Bench issues notices to CBI, others

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed for two weeks the trial against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, an accused in the anti-Sikh riot cases.

A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan stayed a Delhi High Court judgment giving the go-ahead for the trial. It issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation and others, seeking their response in two weeks and posted the matter to August 27.

Earlier senior counsel L. Nageswara Rao and counsel Amit Anand Tiwari said the High Court had gone into the merits of the trial and made many observations that had the potential of prejudicing the defence of the petitioner.

The CBI had filed a charge sheet against Mr. Sajjan Kumar and others in the case of murder of five persons (Kehar Singh and Gurpreet Singh, the husband and the son of Jagdish Kaur; Raghvinder Singh, Narender Pal Singh and Kuldeep Singh). On July 19, the High Court refused to discharge him from the case and allowed the trial to proceed. The appeal is directed against this judgment.

In a special leave petition, Mr. Sajjan Kumar maintained that the trial court had adopted an erroneous approach while considering the material on record in framing charges in contravention of the dictum of law. The surfacing of witnesses claiming to have seen the occurrence of the alleged offence 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 petition said the inordinate delay in the commencement of his 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 the media trial.

The High Court made some unwarranted observations about connivance of the police with politicians to stall trial and repeatedly referred to him as a politician, thus implying that the delay was only because of him. This finding was not based even on an iota of material; nor was there any such allegation against him. He said that for the past 26 years, he had been prosecuted and persecuted.

More In: National | News | Delhi