New Delhi, July 1: The Supreme Court Wednesday dismissed the interim bail plea of a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case convict, undergoing treatment in ICU here after testing positive for COVID-19, and said there was not “even a whisper” about differential treatment given to him due to “incarceration”.

A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and B R Gavai, conducting hearing via video-conferencing, refused bail to former MLA Mahender Yadav who is serving 10-year jail term in the case, NDTV reported.

Terming Yadav’s infection and hospitalisation as “unfortunate”, the top court took note of the submissions of the government and said, “We are informed that he is in a serious condition. He has been hospitalised and is in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. Everything possible is being done for the treatment of the petitioner.”

It observed that relatives of a COVID-19 patient are not allowed to visit the ICU and moreover, there was no allegation of differential treatment on account of incarceration.

“There is not even a whisper in the petition that any differential treatment is meted to the patient or to his relatives on the ground of incarceration of the petitioner (Yadav). The application, therefore, cannot be entertained…,” the bench said in its order.

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.

The top court had on May 13 dismissed the interim bail plea on health grounds of former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the case saying that he did not need hospitalisation 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 Mr 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 riots had broken out after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 by her two Sikh 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.

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