New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday said it will start hearing arguments from July 11 on re-opening of trial in five cases relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The court had earlier indicated that it is inclined to re-open trial in these cases.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra said arguments in all the five cases would be heard separately.
On March 29, terming the acquittal of all accused by a local trial court in 1986 as "shocking our judicial conscience", the high court had issued show-cause notices to the accused in the five cases, asking them why the cases against them should not be re-opened.
Taking suo motu cognisance of the five cases, the court had observed that key eyewitnesses were not examined and that the cases were closed "very rapidly" without proper investigation and trial.
On Monday, former Councillor Balwan Singh Khokkar was produced before the court. The bench had issued production warrant for Khokkar, one of the accused in three of these cases and currently lodged in the Tihar Central Jail here.
When the court enquired whether he had hired any lawyer or the court should appoint one to represent him, Khokhar replied he had no lawyer, adding: "(Congress leader) Sajjan Kumar`s lawyer ruined my life. I have lost my property, everything... I don`t have money for lawyer."
However, he later said that he would hire a lawyer for himself before the next date of hearing.
The investigating officer informed the court that eight accused in the case had died, so proceedings against them were closed. The accused who died are Ram Kumar, Dhanraj, Mahendra Singh Manan, Vidyanand, Dhanpat, Ved Parkash, Shiv Charan and Mahendra Singh.
The court asked police to place on record death certificates of deceased persons. One of the two complainants, Sampurn Kaur appeared before the court, while accused Ramji Lal Sharma could not be traced by police.
The court said it would hear all five cases separately and gave different dates.
The court had also issued show-cause notice to a former legislator Mahender Singh Yadav, accused in two cases, as to why re-investigation and re-trial against them should not be ordered.
The bench had passed this order after taking note of the trial court judgments of 1986 in the five cases. Interestingly, the five cases came to the knowledge of the court after they were cited by the appellants to buttress their arguments.
The trial court records were placed before the high court by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) during the hearing of another 1984 riots case, in which the acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar had been challenged by the agency.
These complaints related to killing of Sikh men and destruction of their properties during the riots that erupted in the Raj Nagar area of Palam Colony in Delhi Cantt in November 1984 after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.