M A I N   N E W S

CBI gets sanction to prosecute Sajjan
PC keeps his promise of action in the case
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 31
In a much-awaited development, Delhi’s Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna today, following an advice from the Union Home Ministry, gave a go-ahead to the CBI to prosecute senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

While confirming that the sanction had been accorded, sources said a formal notification was expected by tonight. A case against Sajjan Kumar and three others was registered under various sections, including 302 and 153-A of the IPC, in Delhi for their alleged involvement in the riots. A sanction to prosecute Sajjan Kumar had been hindering progress in the case.

Notably, the move follows Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s announcement in this context in Parliament less than a fortnight ago: “…we have advised the Lt Governor (on according sanction)… I will once again request him to take a decision before the end of the month (December).”

Chidambaram made the promise while replying to a debate on a calling attention motion on “the progress of relief to the victims and measures taken to punish the guilty”, which was moved by Independent MP from Haryana, Tarlochan Singh. As per official estimates, about 3,000 Sikhs had lost their lives in the aftermath of the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The sanction was crucial as Section 153-A was a part of the case and as per law government’s prior sanction is needed for prosecution under this section. The sanction should not be confused with the sanction that is needed in case of constitutional authorities or government servants, said sources. Other sections of the IPC like 302 need no prior sanction. Section 153-A of the IPC deals with incidents or acts of “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race… and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”. The sanction is needed as Section 196 of the CrPC clearly lays down that a court cannot take cognizance of a case under Section 153-A of the IPC unless prior sanction has been accorded.

In total, there are four cases registered against Sajjan Kumar. The CBI had clubbed three different cases that were pending and sought sanction from the Lt Governor. One more case was being tried separately.

Reacting to the development over the phone from Punjab, HS Phoolka, the lawyer for the riot victims, said: “Imposition of Section 153-A was done to delay the matter. The CBI should have tried him only under Section 302, which has a far more stiffer penalty and needs no sanction.”

Addressing mediapersons earlier, Chidambaram said he had issued certain directions on December 16 regarding pending claims for compensation. West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Chandigarh had been told to complete the compensation process by December 31 and file the claims with the Centre by January 2010. He said he had also issued directions for giving jobs to riot-affected families at the earliest.

Chidambaram said he had issued directions for tracing out the missing persons and for action against police officers named in the Kusum Lata Mittal report. Kusum Lata Mittal, a former secretary to the Union government, had identified a dozen police officials who had done a creditable job and recommended action against 72 police personnel and dismissal of six others. Chidambaram has in the past expressed his anguish at how Delhi police cops looked the other way as the riots claimed lives.



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