Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, convicted to serve the rest of his life in jail for killing five people in 1984 anti-Sikh riots, has asked the Delhi high court to let him spend 30 more days with his family. In a 15-point request to put off his jail term by a month, Kumar has spoken about how the high court’s verdict finding him guilty had stunned him and needed time to prep for the jail sentence.
The Delhi high court had earlier this week overturned Sajjan Kumar’s acquittal by a lower court and held him guilty of torching a family of five in west Delhi’s Raj Nagar during the riots in Delhi nearly 34 years ago. Spending some more time with his family — including his eight grandchildren — was Sajjan Kumar’s top reason to request the court to give him some grace period before he starts his jail term.
Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel had given the 73-year-old politician, who was considered a Congress strongman in the scores of villages on the outskirts of the national capital, time till 31 December to surrender.
Foremost among the reasons stated in his application seeking a delay in his surrender was the fact that he has eight grandchildren aged between 25 years and five years. The application also states that he has a big family, both from maternal and paternal side. The application states that the 73-year-old “needs to settle matters related to his property”.
In the second reason listed in his application, Sajjan Kumar states that he is “at present under shock and surprise in view of the order of acquittal having been set aside and conviction” and goes on to say that the “applicant believes he is innocent”.
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His third reason states that he needs time to settle his family affairs including affairs with regard to the properties of his. The application stated that “he would not be in a position to settle them within the short span of time granted by the court”.
In his application, Sajjan Kumar sought the additional days to “meet his close relatives, near and dear ones including friends who have been associated with him over a period of 73 years of his life.”
Advocate Anil Sharma, through whom the application was submitted, stated that they also needed more time so that they could file an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the high court’s verdict.
On December 17, the Delhi High Court had reversed the Trial Court’s order acquitting him in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case and had held him guilty of the charges levelled against him. The court had also slapped a fine of Rs 5 lakh on Kumar. The case pertained to the murders of five members of a family in the Raj Nagar area Delhi Cantonment area during the 1984 riots.
Sajjan Kumar’s conviction and sentencing came on a day when the Congress was celebrating its victories in three states and had given the BJP a fresh handle to attack the opposition party.
Riding on Sajjan Kumar’s conviction, the BJP and the Akali Dal had criticised the Congress for making Kamal Nath the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. Both BJP and SAD alleged that Nath had played an active role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Both Nath and Congress have denied the charges. Responding to the BJP’s charge, Congress had said that the issue should not be politicised.
“It should not be linked to the political atmosphere prevailing in the country. The law should take its course, there are appeals. No political benefit should be derived from this,” senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.