High court declines Sajjan Kumar’s plea to transfer case

New Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed pleas of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and others for transfer of their case relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots to another judge, terming it “the grossest possible abuse of the process of law”.

A division bench of Justice Gita Mittal and Justice P.S. Teji refused to send the case to another bench of Delhi High Court, saying the accused have “wilfully” made such applications which contain “baseless and unfounded allegations” and “deliberately misrepresenting judicial record in a dishonest attempt to prevent hearings in these cases”.

Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar, Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokkar had alleged bias by Justice Teji, saying he should not hear the matter as he had heard the case as a trial court judge earlier.

In its 140-page judgement, the bench said: “The attempt to single out a judge and address judges constituting a bench by name and making personal allegations not supported by record against them are really a frontal attack intended to humiliate the judge concerned in public space and browbeat them giving in to illegally and improperly made demands and deserves to be condemned in the highest tone.”

Justice Teji said the applications filed by the accused are “baseless and the apprehensions misconceived and mala fide only intended to delay the hearings in these cases” as well as related appeals.

“I have faithfully, honestly and to the best of my ability without any bias, prejudice and above influence of any kind discharged my judicial functions in consonance with the above oath which I have taken,” Justice Teji said.

During the hearing, the CBI had opposed the plea and sought its dismissal on the ground that it was an attempt to delay the proceedings.

The CBI had said that Justice Teji had never conducted trial proceedings in the case and had heard the bail plea only when he was a trial court judge, since as a Sessions Judge then he was handling the bail matters.

Passing the order, the court stated: “These cases underscore the real truth that ‘there can be peace only if there is justice’, as stated by Mahatma Gandhi and endorsed by world leaders. Failure to punish for a mass crime as riots in which several perished, creates the most difficult chasm in the world to fill. Such failure not only creates wounds which fester but those which actually and incurably infect society.”

“That riots happened in 1984 in New Delhi, the capital of India in which hundreds perished, is not disputed. That despite passage of 32 years thereafter, cases in the complaints emanating from those riots have not attained finality in adjudication has generated a sense of injustice in the victims as well as those who feel that they have been unjustly accused of commission of the crimes.”

It further added: “Most importantly, it has lent arrogance to the actual perpetrators and created scepticism with judicial process in the society at large. It generates a view that serious crime such as mass violence goes undetected and unpunished. We feel that this may have emboldened several and encouraged other such incidents which have occurred in the country thereafter, leaving black marks on our history.”

In 2013, Sajjan Kumar was acquitted by a trial court in the case relating to the killing of five Sikhs by a mob in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar area during the 1984 riots. Yadav and Khokkar were sentenced to three years in jail and are on bail.

The CBI had challenged Sajjan Kumar’s acquittal, while others had challenged their conviction in the high court.