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Indian Case Summary

Sajjan Kumar vs C.B.I on 20 September, 2010 – Case Summary

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In the case of Sajjan Kumar vs Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 20 September 2010, the Supreme Court of India was tasked with examining a significant legal dispute that emerged from the tragic events of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The case was presided over by Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Anil R. Dave.

Facts of the Case

The case revolved around Sajjan Kumar, a former Member of Parliament, who was implicated in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The riots resulted in the deaths of thousands of Sikhs, with the Delhi Police investigating 24 complaints related to over 60 deaths in the area. Despite multiple charge-sheets filed by the Delhi Police, all cases resulted in acquittals.

The investigation into the death of the family members of Smt. Jagdish Kaur, a key witness in the case, was reopened by the anti-Riot Cell of Delhi Police in 2002. However, a closure report was filed in 2005. Following the filing of the closure report, the case was transferred to the CBI on the recommendation of the Justice Nanavati Commission in 2005. The CBI registered a formal FIR and proceeded with a fresh investigation.

Issues Raised

The primary issue raised in the appeal was the framing of charges against Sajjan Kumar for offences punishable under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The appellant argued that the charges were framed based on statements made by key witnesses after a significant time gap, which raised doubts about their reliability. The appellant also contended that the CBI’s re-investigation and filing of fresh charges based on new materials was impermissible in law.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that at the stage of framing charges, the judge has the power to sift and weigh the evidence to determine whether a prima facie case against the accused has been made out. If the materials placed before the court disclose grave suspicion against the accused, the court is justified in framing a charge and proceeding with the trial.

The court also noted that the statements of key witnesses, despite being made after a significant time gap, could not be dismissed outright. The court held that it was not within its purview to analyse the reliability or acceptability of these statements at this stage. This was a matter for the trial judge to decide.

The court also took into consideration the letter from the Special Secretary to the Director of the CBI, which indicated that the case was transferred to the CBI based on assurances given by the Prime Minister and the Home Minister on the floor of the Parliament.

Conclusion

The court, after considering the facts, issues, and its observations, decided that there was sufficient ground to proceed against the appellant, Sajjan Kumar. The court upheld the framing of charges against him and dismissed his appeal. The court also directed the trial court to expedite the completion of the trial, given that the case had been pending since 1984.