Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and three other persons, on Tuesday, sought in a Delhi court removal of "irrelevant witnesses" of CBI in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case in which they are facing prosecution.
District judge J R Aryan asked CBI to respond to the plea of the accused and fixed September 2 for arguments.
The court also sought CBI's reply on a separate plea of the accused seeking to summon records of the two other riots related cases which have already been decided.
The court had earlier framed various charges including murder and rioting against Kumar, Brahmanand Gupta, Peru, Khushal Singh and Ved Prakash in connection with killing of a man in Sultanpuri area in the riots that had occurred after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.
The CBI had earlier said though the charge sheet pertains to killing of six persons but it was only restricting the charge relating to murder of Surjit Singh and not of other deceased persons in respect of whom the trial had already taken place.
The judge was informed by the CBI and the defence counsel that accused Khushal Singh has died and the agency submitted his death certificate.
The court, which was scheduled to decide the date for beginning the trial by recording statements of prosecution witnesses, will now fix it after deciding the two applications moved by the accused.
Defence counsel A K Sharma said that the CBI had filed a consolidated charge sheet of three separate FIRs and the nine prosecution witnesses, who are not related to the murder of victim Surjit Singh, should be removed.
He said three separate FIRs were registered for the murder of six persons but if CBI was restricting its case to only one murder then the witnesses who are not related to this murder should be removed.
CBI prosecutor D P Singh, however, opposed the plea saying it is for the agency to decide who are relevant or irrelevant witnesses and whom they want to remove.
Defence counsel I U Khan, in another application, sought to summon the judicial record of two riot cases of Sultanpuri area which were decided in 2002 and 2003 as some of the witnesses of this case had also deposed in those two cases. Kumar was not an accused in both the cases which had resulted in acquittal of others.
CBI will file its written detailed reply on both the pleas on September 2, the next date of hearing. In July 2010, the trial court had framed charges against Kumar, Brahmanand Gupta, Peru, Khushal Singh and Ved Prakash in connection with the case of killing of Surjit Singh in Sultanpuri here.
Besides charges of murder and rioting, the trial court had also framed charges for the offence of spreading enmity between two communities against the accused in the case.
Senior advocate H S Phoolka, appearing for the victims, had earlier sought security for the witnesses so that they can give statements without any insecurity, threat and fear and their testimony remains "uninfluenced, unbiased and factual". To this plea, the court had asked the CBI to ensure that the witnesses appear fearlessly for their deposition.
CBI had filed two charge sheets against Kumar and others in January 2010 in the riots cases registered in 2005 on the recommendation of Justice G T Nanavati Commission which had probed the sequence of events leading to the violence.