SC refuses to entertain bail plea of COVID-19 positive convict in 1984 riots case

New Delhi, Jul 1 (PTI) The Supreme Court Wednesday refused to entertain a plea for interim bail of convict and former MLA Mahender Yadav, serving 10 years jail term in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, on the ground that he has been admitted to the ICU after being tested positive for COVID-19.

A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and B R Gavai, in the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, said the interim bail application cannot be entertained as the family has no “grievance” related to Yadav’s treatment and moreover, no relatives can visit him in the ICU where he has been treated for the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.

Besides Yadav, former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar are serving life imprisonment in the case after the Delhi High Court had convicted them on December 17, 2018.

The counsel for Yadav said the convict was above 70 years of age and has tested positive for COVID-19 on June 26 in Mandoli jail where another convict, sharing the barrack with him, has recently died of the deadly disease.

“I do not think we can entertain this petition in absence of any specific allegation or complaint regarding treatment and also common rules have to be followed..nowhere relatives of a patient is allowed to visit,” Justice Banerjee said.

Senior advocate H S Phoolka appeared for the riots’ victims and opposed the interim bail plea of Yadav.

Earlier, the apex court, on May 13, had dismissed the interim bail plea on health grounds of former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the case saying that he did not need hospitalization as per medical report at the moment.

It had declined to entertain similar pleas of other two convicts – Yadav and Khokhar.

The regular bail plea of Sajjan Kumar will now be listed for hearing in August, it had said.

Khokhar's life sentence was upheld by the Delhi High Court in 2018, while it had reversed the acquittal of Kumar by the trial court in 2013, in a case related to the 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 anti-Sikh riots had broken out after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 by her two bodyguards. The high court had also upheld the conviction and varying sentences awarded by the trial court to the other five -- Khokhar, retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and former MLAs Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar.

It had also convicted them for criminal conspiracy to burn down residences of Sikh families and a gurdwara in the area during the riots.

The trial court in 2013 had awarded life term to Balwan Khokhar, Bhagmal and Lal, and a three-year jail term to Yadav and Kishan Khokhar.

Following the high court verdict, life term of Balwan Khokhar, Bhagmal and Lal has been upheld and the sentence of Yadav and Kishan Khokar has been enhanced to 10 years in jail. PTI SJK ABA MNL SA