NEW DELHI: Senior lawyer H S Phoolka became emotional after senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was convicted in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case on Monday. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader from Punjab has been representing victims of the riots in courts for the last three decades free of charge. He spoke about his journey of 34 years.
Is justice done or does it seem to have been done?
This is the only case where political patronage was there for convicts from day one. But with today’s judgement, after 34 long years, a message has gone across that law catches up with all those who are guilty. You commit a crime when you are young, but you pay when you are old. The most satisfying aspect is Sajjan Kumar was sentenced to life imprisonment, which is worse than death penalty.
You fought every case in your personal capacity. You yourself suffered during the massacres; is this why you passionately fight the cases?
From the day I started fighting these cases, I was told by everyone not to involve myself in them, but I never felt hopeless and never gave up. I started when I was 28 years old and had just started my practice as a lawyer and used to help the seniors leading the main case, and since then my fight continues. Today’s judgement means a lot to me. Yes, I was a victim of this massacre, but I was saved by God so that I could continue my fight against the high and mighty. But when you take such cases, fear is no word for you. I received threats and advice from all sections of people, but never let any of that affect me much.
The ruling has criticised Delhi Police for shoddy investigation?
The police investigation in the case made a mockery of the justice delivery system. Police records show that there was no crime committed between October 31 and November 4, 1984, which is impossible to believe, as when such a massacre is happening, the diary entry just can’t go blank.
What is the significance of today’s judgement for other pending cases?
This judgement will act as a deterrent for other communal cases in future. This judgement reflects the pain which our country is going through.
What is next for Jagdish Tytler and Kamal Nath?
We will try our best to get cases registered against MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath. Today’s ruling gives us more strength to keep up the struggle.