In a major set back to the struggle for justice to the victims of 1984 carnage, a Court of Additional Sessions Judge, on December 23, 2002 acquitted Congress leader, Sajjan Kumar in the only case that was left against him in connection with his well documented and irrefutable complicity in the massacre.
The police had earlier, on its own closed all the cases against Sajjan Kumar without filing any charge sheet in the Court against him. The only case, where the charge sheet was filed was handled by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the basis of a complaint of Anwar Kaur that Sajjan Kumar was leading the mob that killed her husband Navin Singh at Sultanpuri in West Delhi.
This was the last case against any political leader in the 1984 carnage. The
other two leaders, who were involved in this massacre were HKL Bhagat and
Jagdish Tytler. HKL Bhagat was accused of organizing the mobs for massacre of
innocent Sikhs in East Delhi. In his constituency, 1086 Sikhs (official figures)
had been brutally massacred. Inspite of the allegations of the riot victims from
day one, no case was registered against HKL Bhagat. Even after the
recommendations of the Jain Aggarwal Committee (comprising a retired High Court
Judge and a retired Director General of Police), no case was registered against
HKL Bhagat. When Madan Lal Khurana became the Chief Minister of Delhi, he
pressurized the Central Government to register cases. Thus two cases were
registered, however, the police closed both the cases on its own without filing
any charge sheet in the Court. One of these cases has now been referred to by
the Central Government to CBI for reinvestigation. However, two widows named HKL
Bhagat in the Court of Mr. S.N. Dhingra, Additional Sessions Judge, while giving
their evidences in relation to the murder of their husbands. The Judge, Mr.
Dhinga, summoned HKL Bhagat in both these cases. But unfortunately, one of
the widows, Satnami Bai, turned hostile and did not recognize Bhagat in the
Court. There are wide spread allegations of a dubious role played by one of the
leaders of the victims, Mr. Atma Singh Lubana, who was also a member of the
Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee at that time. Mr. Lubana later on
joined Akali Dal Badal.
In the other case, the widow, Darshan Kaur, struck to her statement and
identified Bhagat in the Court. However, Bhagat was acquitted by the Additional
Sessions Judge, Manju Goel on 20.12.2001 and an appeal has been filed in the
Hon‚€™ble High Court against the said judgment, which is still pending.
Regarding the role of Jagdish Tytler, he was accused of organizing mobs to
kill Sikhs in North Delhi. The police did not register any case against him as
well, even after the recommendations of the Jain Aggarwal Committee. During the
tenure of Madan Lal Khurana, two cases were registered against Bhagat, but the
police gave him clean chit in both the cases and did not even file a
In the present case, in which Sajjan Kumar has been acquitted yesterday, was registered by the CBI on September 7 1989, during the tenure of V.P. Singh‚€™s government. This case was registered on the basis of recommendations of Poti Rosha Committee, which was headed by a retired Chief Justice of the High Court and a retired Director General of Police.
Justice Misra Commission of Enquiry, whose report though was an eye wash,
faced with overwhelming evidence, was forced to hold that wherever the
allegations are leveled against politicians and police officers, the police did
not register any case and wherever the cases were registered, the names of the
police officers or the politicians were deleted. Faced with this situation,
Justice Misra recommended formation of a Committee comprising a retired High
Court Judge and a senior police offer, to recommend registration of such cases.
On the basis of these recommendations, the Government appointed a Committee
comprising Justice (Retd.) Mr. M.L. Jain, retired judge of the High Court of
Delhi and Mr.A.K. Banerjee, retired Inspector General of Police (commonly called
as Jain Bannerjee Committee) in February, 1987. This Committee recommended
registration of cases against Sajjan Kumar in September, 1987 on the basis of
the complaint of Anwar Kaur. However, the government did not register any case
even after this recommendation. When the Committee put pressure on the
Government to implement its recommendations, a Writ Petition was filed in Delhi
High Court by one of the accused in Sajjan Kumar's case.
The Delhi High Court, on the first day itself granted stay against registration of any case based on the recommendations of this Committee. Obviously, the Government counsel also did not oppose.
Citizens Justice Committee, through its Secretary, Mr. H.S.Phoolka intervened in the matter and pressed for vacating the stay. After fighting for two years, Citizens Justice Committee lost the case and the Delhi High Court quashed the appointment of Justice Jain Banerjee Committee. Citizens Justice Committee filed an Appeal in the SupremeCourt. In the mean time, V.P. Singh government came in power. We took up the matter with the VP Singh Government and ultimately a new Committee was appointed with fresh terms of reference. This was the Poti Rosha Committee. It was this Committee, which recommended registration of case against Sajjan Kumar and on that basis, VP Singh Government directed the CBI to register a case.
By the time the CBI had completed the investigation, the Congress Government came in power at the Centre. In the year 1992, the CBI completed the investigations and applied to the Central Government for grant of sanction to file the charge sheet. The Narasimha Rao Government in the Centre slept over the matter for two years. When Madan Lal Khurana became the Chief Minister of Delhi, he appointed Narula Committee to recommend and advise him on the steps to be taken to punish the guilty. One of the recommendations of Narula Committee was to impress upon the Central Government to grant sanction in this matter. Mr. Khurana took up the matter with the Central Government and in the middle of 1994, the Central Government decided that the matter does not fall within its purview and sent the case to the Lt. Governor of Delhi. It took two years for the Narasimha Rao Government to decide that it does not fall within Centre's purview in a case of this nature, where 4,000 of Sikhs were massacred. As if 8 years of delay in filing the charge sheet was not enough, Narasimha Rao Government further decided to sleep over the matter to ensure that delay should kill the matter itself. Ultimately, the CBI was able to file the charge sheet in December, 1994.
The statements of the prosecution witnesses were recorded in the year 1999, 15 years after the incident. Two witnesses namely Salawati Kaur and Fota Singh deposed before the Court that Sajjan Kumar addressed a meeting in front of Block A-4 Gurudwara and gave instructions to kill the Sikhs. These two witnesses withstood the cross examination by a battery of lawyers representing Sajjan Kumar and other accused.
The statement of Anwar Kaur, the Complainant in this case was recorded on 22nd March, 1999. In her statement Anwar Kaur states as follows:-
"The mob comprised of among other persons accused Sajjan Kumar."
During her cross examination on 23rd March, 1999 and on 23rd May,1999, no questions were asked regarding her statement against Sajjan Kumar. In the cross examination on 14.9.1999 by Sajjan Kumar's counsel, she withstood by the statement made by her in the examination in chief. Anwar Kaur stated :
" I had myself seen Accused Sajjan Kumar in the mob. However after 2/3 months after the incident, I was even told by some persons that Sajjan Kumar was amongst the leaders. I had named even Sajjan Kumar while reporting the matter to the SHO, P.S. Sultanpuri, but I do not know whether he had mentioned his name in the report or not."
The cross examination was not concluded on that day for obvious reasons. On the next date i.e. on 6.10.1999, Sajjan Kumar's lawyer continued the cross examination. Anwar Kaur stated in her cross examination as follows:-
"It is incorrect to suggest that on the dates of hearing, when I come to the court to make a statement I depose at the instance of the police. I did not go to the police on the last date of hearing before coming to this court. I had named Sajjan Kumar as I had been told by the police that he was in the mob. I myself had not seen him in the mob on that date."
"It is incorrect to suggest that the present case against the accused is politically motivated or that I was used as a tool by the opponents of Sajjan Kumar and others."
On a perusal of the above statement of Anwar Kaur made on 6.10.1999, it appears that there has been some error while recording her statement. It is not a clear statement, which could discard her testimony on 23.3.1999 during the examination in chief and also on 14.9.1999 during her cross examination.
After Anwar Kaur, five other witnesses appeared, but unfortunately all of them turned hostile. Again allegations for having turned these witnesses hostile are being leveled against the same very person, Atma Singh Lubana, who was responsible for the acquittal of HKL Bhagat. It has been commonly stated that Lubana used his clout, being a member of the Gurudwara Committee and also as an active member of the Akali Dal to win over these witnesses at the instance of Sajjan Kumar.
Sajjan Kumar produced two witnesses in defence. Both these witnesses, were Inspectors of Delhi Police. Both of them were the investigating officers in FIR no. 250/84. The police had registered a general FIR on 1.11.1984 regarding the whole of the area of Sultanpuri and that was FIR No. 250/84. 49 murders in Sultanpuri, which took place at different times of the day at different places, even miles away, were investigated and tried together in one FIR and one trial case. As if this defect was not enough, the police did not conduct proper investigations and intentionally left defects in the investigation to protect the guilty. There were allegations that the police and the Investigating officers in this case were protecting Sajjan Kumar and not making him an accused. It was on account of these allegations that the case of Anwar Kaur was sent to CBI for investigation.
However, the testimony of the two witnesses, Salawati Kaur and Fota Singh, who had clearly deposed against Sajjan Kumar, ought to have returned the findings of conviction, but unfortunately, the Additional Sessions Judge, Mrs. Maju Goel relied upon the defence witnesses, who happened to be the Inspectors of Delhi Police and the findings in case No. 250/84, to acquit Sajjan Kumar in this case.
In the conclusion part of the judgment, Mrs. Manju Goel, Additional Sessions Judge, holds as follows:-
Evidence is poor.
There is no other witness apart from those mentioned above. There is no circumstantial evidence in this case to connect the Accused with the offence.
Defence has provided two witnesses, who were the Investigation Officers in FIR 250/84. DW-1, Inspector Sukhbir Singh was the IO till 28th November, 1984. Till then, no witness had named any of the Accused. He further said that death of Navin Singh, husband of Anwar Kaur, had not been brought to his notice. DW-2 was Inspector Raj Singh, who took over the investigation from DW-1. He says that during the entire investigation of FIR 250/84, the name of Sajjan Kumar did not figure.
Thus, the total evidence, carefully scrutinized, fails miserably to prove that either Sajjan Kumar or any other Accused person was at all a part of the unlawful assembly. It may be mentioned that case FIR 250/84, which is also tried by this Court, is also decided.
All accused persons in this FIR 250/84 are the same, who have been acquitted on the basis of the evidence led in that case.
In view of the above discussions, I have no option, but to acquit the Accused person. Accused persons are thus acquitted.
Unfortunately, the same case, where the police had protected and saved Sajjan Kumar, due to which the case was sent to CBI, came in the way of conviction of Sajjan Kumar. The Delhi Police not only protected Sajjan Kumar in the case investigated by it, but also rescued Sajjan Kumar in the other case investigated by the CBI. It is unfortunate that the Court did not consider dishonest intention of the investigating agency and the manner in which the police protected Sajjan Kumar makes this case an exceptional case. The Court treated this case as an ordinary one and not as an exceptional one where the whole of the machinery including the Government and the prosecution protected the guilty. A duty was cast upon the Court to see through the game of dishonest investigating agency and not to fall prey to it. The court treated it as one of the ordinary cases and fell into the trap laid down by the dishonest investigating agency and acquitted Sajjan Kumar. The judgment has resulted in a gross miscarriage of justice.
We are taking up the matter with the Government to file an appeal before the High Court and in the event, the Government does not file an appeal, we will approach the High Court ourselves.
Many victims have deposed before Nanawati Commission against Sajjan Kumar, HKL Bhagat and Jagdish Tytler. Nanawati is still holding his enquiry and is likely to submit his report in mid 2003. This is to be seen that how Nanawati deals with these allegations.
Our pledge is to fight for justice till the end, their end or our end. We
will not give up!