Legal Nation

1984 riots: No relief to former MP Sajjan Kumar, SC rejects interim bail plea

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday refused to grant interim bail sought on health grounds to former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, who is serving life imprisonment in an 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, saying as per the medical records his condition is stable and improving.

The apex court, which dealt with the submission advanced by Kumar’s counsel that the former MP be allowed to undergo treatment at a private hospital at his own cost, observed that he cannot be treated as a “super VIP patient”.

“You are feeling he is the only patient in the country to be examined. He is one of the patients,” a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M M Sundresh told the counsel representing Kumar.

Observing that Kumar was accused of “heinous crime”, the bench further said, “You want him to be treated as some kind of a super VIP patient. That is what is happening.”

At the outset, Kumar’s counsel referred to the medical records and said he was examined by the doctors at a government hospital here and the report says his condition has improved and he needed few more days of hospital care.

The counsel said the doctors have not given any conclusion about the diagnosis of the problem and Kumar has lost about 18 kg weight.

He said 75-year-old Kumar was earlier treated by a doctor at a private hospital and he could be treated there, even being in custody, at his own cost.

“No. Sorry. He is being looked after here,” the bench said.

When his counsel argued that he was only making a request considering that the man should not die, the bench observed, “You are making a very large statement. Who can guarantee that except the almighty.”

The bench observed that a picture was portrayed before it that something is very wrong but as per the medical reports, these are age related ailments.

“Merely because he has been, in his time, some high-profile person, does not entitle him to keep coming every time to the court on these issues,” the bench observed.

The top court noted in its order that the medical report says that Kumar was examined and a medical board was also constituted.

It noted that as per the report, “his condition is stated to be stable and imporving but he needs some more day of hospital care.”

The bench said it is not inclined to issue a direction that he must be taken to the private hospital for treatment but if the medical authorities attending to him consider the necessity of consulting the doctor or his examination there, it is open for them to do the needful.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the complainant in the matter, said there are experts at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and it is fully equipped.

The bench observed that today, people are consulting doctors at USA and all over the world through virtual mode or use of technology and Kumar seems to have faith in the doctor, who had treated him earlier.

Kumar’s counsel said that regular bail plea of the former MP is pending before the apex court.

On August 24, the top court had directed the CBI to verify the medical condition of Kumar and file an affidavit.

In September last year, the apex court had dismissed Kumar’s plea seeking interim bail on health grounds.

Kumar is serving life imprisonment after the Delhi High Court had convicted him and others in the case on December 17, 2018.

The high court had reversed the acquittal of Kumar by the trial court in 2013 in the case related to killings of five Sikhs in the Raj Nagar Part-I area in Palam Colony in southwest Delhi on November 1-2, 1984, and burning down of a gurdwara in Raj Nagar Part-II.

The riots had broken out after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 by her two Sikh bodyguards.

In its verdict, the high court had convicted and sentenced Kumar to imprisonment for “remainder of his natural life” in the case saying the riots were a “crime against humanity” perpetrated by those who enjoyed “political patronage” and aided by an “indifferent” law enforcement agency.