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It will be "unique" if parties decide which judge will hear their matter, Delhi High Court observed today. The observation came during the hearing of a plea by Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and others for transfer of their case relating to 1984 anti-Sikh riots alleging bias by one of the members of a division bench. "It will be a unique day in history when the parties involved in a matter will decide which judge will hear their case," a bench of Justices Gita Mittal and P S Teji remarked. It further said they were struggling to get cases older than the 1984 riots listed so that people waiting for justice do not have to wait long. "This kind of application is filed in every difficult case nowadays. But the applicant does not understand that due to such attempts, how much judicial time is wasted on this," the court said, adding that "there are many cases older than 1984 riots. The victims still await justice.
This bench is also hearing the case of the 1987 Hashimpura massacre".
The court's oral observation came during the hearing of a application in which Kumar and others have sought transfer of the matter alleging bias by Justice P S Teji, one of the judges of the division bench hearing the appeal. The arguments will continue tomorrow.
Kumar, who was acquitted by a trial court in 2013 in a case relating to the killing of five Sikhs by a mob in Delhi Cantonment's Raj Nagar area during the riots, has claimed in his plea that the case should be transferred to another bench as Justice Teji had heard the anticipatory bail pleas in this case when he was a trial court judge.
Former MLA Mahender Yadav, who was handed three years jail term in the matter and is presently on bail, had also alleged that "Justice Teji was exercising his keen interest in the matter" and he should recuse himself from hearing these appeals.
This was strongly objected to by senior advocate H S Phoolka, appearing for the victims, who submitted that such allegations should not be entertained in the court.
Justice Mittal also stated that this was no ground for recusing from hearing the matter.
Earlier, CBI in its reply to the application had said that the three convicts, who had filed such "frivolous" application, were "intimidating" the court by allegedly casting aspersions on a judge hearing an appeal against their acquittal. CBI had said it was an attempt to cause "obstruction", delay the proceedings and frustrate the course of justice. Besides Kumar and Yadav, convict Kishan Khokkar, who was sentenced to three year in jail and is on bail, has also filed a similar application. While acquitting Kumar, the trial court had held five of them guilty and awarded varying jail terms to them for being part of the mob that killed the Sikhs. CBI has moved the high court challenging the acquittal of Kumar in a case relating to killing of five Sikhs -- Kehar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Raghuvender Singh, Narender Pal Singhand Kuldeep Singh, all belonging to the same family, by a mob during the riots. Ex-councillor Balwan Khokkar, Girdhari Lal and retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal were given life term, while the remaining two, Yadav and Khokkar, were given three-year jail term each for their lesser roles. They have also challenged their conviction in high court. Besides CBI, the victims' family members Jagdish and Nirpreet Kaur had also challenged the trial court order. The trial court had acquitted Kumar in the case saying he deserved the "benefit of doubt" as key witness Jagdish Kaur did not name him as an accused in her statement given to the Justice Ranganath Mishra panel in 1985. CBI, in its appeal before the high court, has alleged that the trial court had erred in acquitting Kumar as it was he who had instigated the mob during the riots that broke out after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. The case against Kumar, a former Lok Sabha MP from Outer Delhi, and others was registered in 2005 on a recommendation by Justice G T Nanavati Commission. CBI had filed two chargesheets against him and other accused in January 2010.