Anti-Sikh riots: Sajjan Kumar’s plea against charges dismissed

New Delhi: Three months after his acquittal in an anti-Sikh riots case, Congress leader Sajjan Kumar faces trial in a related case with the Delhi High Court today dismissing his plea for quashing charges of murder and rioting in the killing of six persons during the 1984 carnage.
 
The HC affirmed the trial court's order saying charges could be framed if there is a strong suspicion leading the court to think that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed the offence.
 
The trial in the lower court is scheduled to begin July 30.
 
Justice Suresh Kait, however, refused to frame additional charge of conspiracy against him and co-accused Ved Prakash Pial and Brahmanand Gupta saying there is "no evidence to show the meeting of minds".
 
The court also rejected pleas of Pial and Gupta challenging framing of charges against them.
 
"It is settled law that at the initial stage if there is strong suspicion which leads the court to think that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed the offence, a charge would be framed," the bench said.
 
"The requirement at the stage of charge/ framing of charge is a mere presumption leading to a strong suspicion, whereas the consideration at the stage of trial is the principle of beyond reasonable doubt…at the stage of framing of charge, a roving and fishing inquiry is impermissible," the court said.
 
Kumar had challenged the framing of charges against him on several grounds including that the witnesses cited by the prosecution have already appeared and deposed before the courts earlier in related cases and that they had not named him in their statements.
 
"After a lapse of almost 24 years surfacing of these witnesses claiming to have seen the petitioner as inciting the riot during that period in clearly contradictory to their earlier statements recorded before the court of competent jurisdiction in trial conducted for the death and riot committed during the relevant period in that very area," Kumar had said.