Consolation at last after a quarter-century for 97-year-old father of victim
NEW DELHI: At the ripe old age of 97, H. D. Sikand had just one last wish in life – to see that justice was done to his son who was blasted by a parcel bomb at his residence in the Capital’s upmarket Sunder Nagar area 26 years ago. The nonagenarian was a happy man on Monday when a court here convicted a former Army officer for the gruesome murder that took place on October 2, 1982.
Pronouncing the long-awaited verdict, Additional Sessions Judge Mamata Sehgal convicted Lieutenant-Colonel (Retd) S. J. Chaudhuri for the murder of 40-year-old Krishna Sikand and under different sections of the Explosives Act. The court ordered immediate arrest of the retired Army officer who had been out on bail during the trial. However, the convicted officer complained of illness and fainted in the courtroom and had to be rushed to a hospital. The court has fixed April 30 for arguments on sentencing.
Speaking to media persons after pronouncement of the verdict, Mr. H. D. Sikand, who owns the Maruti car showroom Sikand Motors on Janpath here in the Capital, said he was satisfied that justice had been done in the case at last.
According to the prosecution, which examined more than 70 witnesses during the long trial, the accused was angry over Krishna Sikand’s proximity to his estranged wife. The officer’s relations with his wife had gone sour and they were engaged in a matrimonial dispute.
To eliminate Krishna Sikand, the accused had despatched a parcel bomb to his Sunder Nagar residence, the prosecution had alleged. The Central Bureau of Investigation, which probed the case, had also alleged that the bomb used in the murder was of Pakistani make and had been seized by the Indian Army following its victory in the 1971 war.
The trial in the case had begun on May 31, 1984, and continued to drag for years. On February 23 last year, Mr. Sikand through his advocate S. C. Chawla approached the Delhi High Court seeking a speedy trial and dispensation of justice. The petitioner cited his advanced age, failing health and also his human right for speedy justice. He also pointed out that the lower court was not hearing the case on account of paucity of time due to day-to-day hearing of the Uphaar fire tragedy case, which too had been languishing in the court for ten years.
Taking a serious view of the situation, the High Court directed the lower court to carry out the trial in the case even if the Judge was neck-deep in work. It also asked the lower court to “spare time before lunch” to hear the case.
Following the verdict in the much talked about Uphaar fire tragedy case in November last year, the trial in the Sikand case was speeded up and final arguments concluded in April. “Even after the verdict in the Uphaar fire tragedy, nearly 40 to 50 hearings took place before the trial concluded,” said Mr. Chawla on Monday.
In 2006 also the case had got stuck as the Judge hearing the matter in the Patiala House courts here was transferred to the Tis Hazari courts. The petitioner had then approached the Delhi High Court seeking transfer of the case to the same Judge as she had partly heard the arguments. The High Court allowed the plea and the case was transferred to Tis Hazari. Subsequently the Judge again got transferred to the Patiala House courts but the case remained with the same Judge.