The Delhi High Court today granted bail on medical grounds to an 89-year-old convict serving life term in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. A vacation bench of Justices Manmohan and Yogesh Khanna released retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal on bail till July four on the ground that he has to undergo a surgery. The court granted him the relief till July four instead of three months sought by the convict, so that the bench which is hearing the anti-Sikh riots cases can take a final decision on his plea. “A prayer is made for suspension of sentence for three months. In view of the circumstances placed before us, the sentence of the appellant is suspended till July 4,” the bench said in its interim order. The convict is already on interim bail since March 24 on medical grounds. Bhagmal, through his counsel, had stated that he is suffering from enlarged prostrate for which he has to undergo surgery which would require stay in the hospital. Taking note of his medical condition, the bench extended his bail on furnishing of a personal bond of Rs 25,000 with one surety of the like amount. It directed Bhagmal to give the address at which he would be available and the mobile number on which he can be contacted by the CBI during the interim suspension of his sentence.
The bench asked the convict not to get in touch with any witness or the legal heirs of the deceased. “In case, there is a violation of this condition, it will be open to the CBI to move an application for recall of this order,” it said, adding that Bhagmal shall not leave the National Capital Territory of Delhi without its permission. Bhagmal, former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, Girdhari Lal and two others were held guilty in a case relating to the murder of five members of a family in Raj Nagar area of Delhi Cantonment on November 1, 1984, after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
They had challenged their conviction and the sentence awarded by the trial court in May 2013. The trial court had acquitted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar but awarded life term to Bhagmal, Khokhar and Girdhari Lal and three-year jail term to two others — former MLA Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar. The convicts have filed appeals before the High Court while CBI too has filed an appeal alleging that they were engaged in “a planned communal riot” and “religious cleansing”. The agency has also appealed against acquittal of Kumar.
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The high court had on March 29 this year issued show cause notices to 11 accused including Khokhar and Yadav in five 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases. The accused, who were acquitted of the charges, were asked why should the court not order reinvestigation and retrial against them as they faced allegations of “horrifying crimes against humanity”. The bench had issued notices on the complaints filed regarding the violent incidents on November 1 and 2, 1984 in the Delhi Cantonment area.