New Delhi: Delhi high court on Monday sought the response of CBI and the two persons, who were sentenced to three years in jail for rioting in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, on the plea of victims' families challenging the trial court verdict acquitting them of murder charges.
A bench of justices G S Sistani and G P Mittal sought CBI's response by August 27 on the appeal of Jagdish Kaur and Nirpreet Kaur who have challenged the trial court's April 30 order acquitting ex-MLA Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokkar from the charges of murder.
Congress leader Sajjan Kumar's acquittal in the riots case has also been challenged in the high court by the victims which is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday.
The bench also issued notice to the agency on another plea by the victims who are also seeking enhancement of the life sentence, awarded to Balwan Khokkar, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal, to death penalty for the charge of murder.
The bench also called for the trial court record in the case on the next date of hearing.
The trial court on April 30 had acquitted Sajjan Kumar, a former Lok Sabha MP from Outer Delhi, but convicted five others -- Balwan Khokkar, an ex-councillor, Mahender Yadav, an ex-MLA, Kishan Khokkar, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal -- for their involvement in the case.
While Balwan Khokkar, Lal and Bhagmal were convicted for murder and rioting and awarded life term, Yadav and Kishan Khokkar were convicted only for rioting and handed down three years' jail term.
Filing the petitions through their counsel H S Phoolka, the victims, who also sought compensation, said the April 30 verdict is "erroneous" as the trial court failed to appreciate the evidence against the convicts.
In their plea against the acquittal order, the victims said, "The trial court has not given any substantial, compelling, good and sufficient reason and ground to acquit the respondents under the charges of murder framed against them."
The petitioners also claimed that despite they being eyewitness to the role of the respondents during the riots, the trial court has acted in a "casual" manner while pronouncing its verdict.
"The trial court gives finding as to the credibility of these eyewitnesses that they are natural and truthful, but in a cursory manner has acquitted the respondents for such a heinous crime," the petition said and urged the High Court to aside the trial court verdict.
The case relates to the anti-Sikh riots that had broken out after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. Gandhi was shot dead by two of her bodyguards at her residence here.
The case, in which these five persons were held guilty, deals with the death of five Sikhs -- Kehar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Raghuvender Singh, Narender Pal Singh and Kuldeep Singh -- who were members of the same family and were killed by a mob in Delhi Cantonment's Raj Nagar area, during the riots.
Kehar and Gurpreet were the husband and son respectively of complainant and eye witness Jagdish Kaur while Raghuvender, Narender and Kuldeep were the brothers of Kaur and another witness Jagsher Singh.
The case against Kumar and others was registered in 2005 on a recommendation by Justice G T Nanavati Commission. CBI had filed two charge sheets against him and the other accused in January 2010.
The trial court had in May 2010 framed charges against Kumar and the five others under Sections 302 (murder), 395 (dacoity), 427 (mischief to cause damage to property), 153-A (promoting enmity between different communities), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and other provisions of the IPC.
The Delhi Police had earlier probed the riots case and the investigation was handed over to CBI in 2005. CBI had told the court there was a conspiracy of "terrifying proportion" between Kumar and the police during the riots.
The agency had said the police had kept its "eyes closed" to the widespread violence.
CBI had also alleged that in all the complaints wherever Kumar's name had cropped up, it was "immediately eliminated" from the Delhi Police records.