NEW DELHI: In a relief to Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, the Delhi High Court today granted anticipatory bail to the former MP and six others in 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases, saying the delay in deposition of witnesses weighed in favour of the accused.
"25 years have gone by and this delay (in deposition of witnesses) undoubtedly tilts the balance in favour of the petitioners, at least for the purpose of grant of bail to them," Justice A K Pathak said.
The Court, in its 25-page order, took into consideration the statement of witnesses against the accused but noted that there was delay in their deposition. "Be that as it may, the statement of such witnesses cannot be brushed aside completely at this stage but at the same time, they have to explain during trial as to why they had not deposed against the petitioners on earlier occasions," it said.
Justice Pathak also pointed out the CBI did not deem it fit to arrest Kumar and other accused during its five-year probe and there was also no allegation against them of influencing the witnesses.
"In spite of petitioners being at large, witnesses came forward and made statements before the CBI. There is no specific allegation against the petitioners of having threatened or influenced any of the witnesses," the court said.
A lower court had issued non-bailable warrants against 64-year-old Kumar and others in two riots cases.
The court allowed the bail plea of Kumar, the former Outer Delhi MP, and others on furnishing a personal and surety bond of Rs 50,000 each, saying, "it would not be justifiable to detain the petitioners in custody, after lapse of 25 years of incident".
The court had on February 22 reserved its order on the anticipatory bail plea of Kumar and other accused Mahendra Yadav, Brahmanand Gupta, Krishan Khokhar, Balwant Khokhar, Peru and Ved Prakash, who have been chargesheeted by the CBI.
A lower court had issued non-bailable warrants second time on February 23 against Kumar and others after they failed to appear before it. Kumar had reportedly gone missing since February 19, leading to suspension of his Personal Security Officer (PSO) by the Delhi Police.
CBI had chargesheeted 12 people, including Kumar, on January 13 in two separate riot cases for allegedly making provocative speeches, leading to the killing of 12 persons in the violence that broke out following the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.