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Sajjan got 'benefit of doubt' as victim didn't name him in 1985: Court

Published: 01st May 2013 08:01 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st May 2013 08:45 PM   |  A+A-

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By PTI

Congress leader Sajjan Kumar deserved the "benefit of doubt" in an anti-Sikh riots case as one of the victims and key witness Jagdish Kaur did not name him as an accused in her statement recorded by the Justice Ranganath Mishra panel in 1985, a Delhi court has said.

Allowing Kumar to walk free in the 29-year-old case relating to the killings of five Sikhs, District and Sessions Judge J R Aryan, in his 129-page verdict, said the subsequent testimony of victim Kaur that she had seen him instigating a mob with his provocative speech was "not acceptable and believable".

"It was a matter of fact that when eye witness and complainant Jagdish Kaur had submitted her affidavit before Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission in 1985, she had not mentioned the name of Sajjan Kumar in any manner though the other accused had been named," the court said, adding the name of the leader came during subsequent statement.

The court, however, lent credence to the testimonies of Kaur and other witnesses against five co-accused as they (witnesses) had named them before the panel and in the subsequent proceedings also.

Dealing with the role of the leader, the court said "in all these facts and circumstances, testimony of Jagdish Kaur that she heard and saw Sajjan Kumar addressing a gathering with provocative and instigating utterances is not acceptable and believable and to that extent the witness is not believable.

"Except a role of conspiracy or abetting, no other act or role has been attributed to Sajjan Kumar by the prosecution. Accordingly, accused Sajjan Kumar deserving to be a benefit of doubt is acquitted of the charge."

While Kumar was freed, five other accused have been held guilty for the offences including murder, rioting and unlawful assembly by the armed rioters.

The court would hear on May 6 the arguments on quantum of sentence against the five convicts.

In the judgement, it also said CBI had only attributed a role of conspiracy and abetment of crime on Kumar and they could not be proved.

While giving the "benefit of doubt" to the former Outer Delhi MP, the court said all the complaints which the police had received regarding the incidents of killings on November 1 and 2, 1984, does not mention Kumar's name or his presence at the spot in "any context".

"To my considered view, accused Sajjan Kumar deserves to be given a benefit of doubt. It is a matter of fact that ever since incidents of this case occurred and ever since initially reports were submitted to the local police, in particular in the present case and otherwise in general as admitted by the investigating officer that all complaints concerning the incidents of November 1 and 2, 1984 in Raj Nagar, Palam Colony and which were being clubbed with FIR 416/84, none of the complaints mentioned the name or the presence of Sajjan Kumar in any context," the judge said.

Kumar's counsel had argued his implication in the case was on a false evidence when his name appeared for the first time in the affidavit which was sworn by Jagdish Kaur before Justice G T Nanavati Commission.

The prosecution had contended that Kaur, who lost her husband and a young son during the riots, had no motive or enmity to involve and implicate Kumar unless she had perceived his role when he addressed the mob and instigated to eliminate Sikhs and their properties.

The court agreed with the defence counsel's argument that even Kaur's affidavit before Nanavati Commission had evasively mentioned that MP Sajjan Kumar was leading the mob.

It also raised "serious doubt" on the veracity of other witness Jagsher Singh who lost his three brothers during the riots, regarding Kumar.

"The absence of the name of Sajjan Kumar in any context and then witness Jagsher describing his role for the first time after 23 years when his 161 CrPC statement was recorded somewhere in 2007 is a serious doubt in the veracity of witness concerning accused Sajjan Kumar," it said.

The judge said it has been proved that the convicts are guilty of rioting, armed with deadly weapons and unlawful assembly on November 1, 1984 at around 7.30 pm near Gurudwara Raj Nagar.

The court said it has been proved that there was a rioting mob, including the convicts, and they were armed with weapons like lathis and rods and they did indulge in violence.

"...accused of the present case namely Bhagmal, Balwan Khokar, Krishan Khokar and Mahender Yadav were part of that rioting mob and the mob was armed with weapons, lathis and sarias," it said, adding the testimony of Jagdish Kaur was "believable and acceptable" that on November 2, 1984, Girdhari and Bhagmal were part of the rioting mob when the mob had assaulted and killed victim Narender Pal Singh.

The court, however, said Jagsher's presence on the crime scene has been accepted when the charge against other five accused was being examined but "the falsehood of that part of his testimony concerning accused Sajjan Kumar may not be ruled out".

Regarding another eye witness Nirpreet Kaur, who lost her father during the riots which was tried as another case, the court said she too had taken Kumar's name for the first time after a long time when her statement was recorded by the CBI in 2007.

"It is a fact that she was cited as an eye witness in the case of murder of her father Nirmal Singh. This witness in that criminal case when her 161 CrPC statement had been recorded in 1985 had not named Sajjan Kumar with any role or act," the judgement said.

The court convicted accused Balwan Khokkar, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal for the offences of murder and rioting while being armed with deadly weapons. It held the other two accused Kishan Khokkar and Mahender Yadav guilty of rioting while being armed with deadly weapons only.

The judge said it has been proved that the convicts are guilty of rioting, armed with deadly weapons and unlawful assembly on November 1, 1984 at around 7.30 pm near Gurudwara Raj Nagar.

The court said it has been proved that there was a rioting mob, including the convicts, and they were armed with weapons like lathis and rods and they did indulge in violence.

"...accused of the present case namely Bhagmal, Balwan Khokar, Krishan Khokar and Mahender Yadav were part of that rioting mob and mob was armed with weapons, lathis and sarias," it said, adding the testimony of Jagdish Kaur was "believable and acceptable" that on November 2, 1984, Girdhari and Bhagmal were part of the rioting mob when the mob assaulted and killed victim Narender Pal Singh.



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