Supreme Court: Recently elevated Justice Sanjiv Khanna has recused himself from hearing the appeal of former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar challenging the Delhi High Court verdict that sentenced him to life term in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.
Ordering that the plea of Sajjan Kumar be listed before an appropriate bench to which Justice Khanna was not part, CJI Ranjan Gogoi, who was hearing the matter with Justice Khanna, said:
“My brother (Justice Sanjiv Khanna) does not want to hear.”
Justice Khanna had dismissed Sajjan Kumar’s bail in the Delhi High Court in 2015 in connection with the case.
The Supreme Court had earlier admitted the appeal of Sajjan Kumar for hearing and had also issued notice to the CBI on his bail plea and had sought its response within four weeks. It had also allowed the former Congress leader to file “lengthy list of dates” and “additional facts and grounds” in favour of his appeal.
Background of the case:
- The anti-Sikh riots had broken out after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 by her two Sikh bodyguards.
- The case in which Sajjan Kumar was convicted and sentenced relates to the killing of five Sikhs in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar Part-I area of southwest Delhi on November 1-2, 1984 and burning down of a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar Part-II.
- Trial court acquitted Sajjan Kumar in the case in a 2010 verdict.
- The Delhi High Court had convicted and sentenced Sajjan Kumar to spend the remainder of his life in jail for the offences of criminal conspiracy and abetment in commission of crimes of murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of communal harmony and defiling and destruction of a Gurdwara.
- Sajjan Kumar surrendered before a trial court here on December 31, 2018 to serve the sentence in pursuance of the high court’s December 17 judgment awarding him life imprisonment for the “remainder of his natural life”.