The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to respond to the bail plea of a convict in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, reported PTI. Former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, serving a life term in Tihar Jail, has sought regular bail till the appeals process against his conviction by a trial court is completed.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel will next hear the matter on September 11. Advocate Tarannum Cheema, on behalf of the investigating agency, agreed to file a response to the petition.

In May 2013, a trial court found Khokhar and four other men, including a retired naval officer, guilty of murdering five members of a Sikh family in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar area on November 1, 1984 and awarded them life imprisonment. The court also sentenced two other accused – former MLA Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar – to three years in prison. Another accused, Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, was acquitted.

The CBI has filed an appeal against Kumar’s acquittal and asked for increased sentences for the other accused, claiming they took part in “a planned communal riot” and “religious cleansing”.

In July, the Delhi High Court asked what the state machinery was doing when the riots took place next to the cantonment. It would not have been hearing these cases, the court said, if they had been properly dealt with earlier.