Several political bigwigs, senior officials and corporates suffered setbacks in the Delhi High Court in 2019 — be it Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case and P Chidambaram in the INX Media case, or the CBI top brass for ugly infighting or scam tainted Indiabulls and Bhushan Steel. The high court order denying anticipatory bail to Chidambaram in the INX Media corruption case proved costly for him as he was arrested by the CBI the very next day after a high drama and had to spend over 100 days in custody as it denied him regular bail as well.
Associated Journal Ltd (AJL), publisher of Congress mouthpiece National Herald, too faced the brunt of the court which dismissed its plea challenging the Centre’s order to vacate its premises. Further, it held that transferring AJL shares to Young Indian, in which Rahul and his mother Sonia are majority shareholders, was a “clandestine and surreptitious transfer”.
Sonia’s son-in-law Robert Vadra is also embroiled in a money laundering case which he is seeking to be quashed while the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has approached the high court to cancel his anticipatory bail granted by a trial court. Vadra is facing allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property — at 12, Bryanston Square — estimated at 1.9 million pounds (over Rs 17 crore).
After these jolts, Congress saw some relief as well for its leaders when D K Shivakumar got bail from the high court after spending over a month in jail in a money laundering case filed by the ED. Aam Aadmi Party Convenor Kejriwal, who cut a sorry figure in the high court last year, had luck on his side in 2019 with proceedings in two criminal defamation cases against him getting stayed and another libel matter involving him and BJP leader Kirti Azad against DDCA reaching settlement.
However, former AIADMK leaders TTV Dhinakaran and VK Sasikala faced a setback when the high court dismissed their pleas claiming the party name and two leaves symbol for their faction and allowed their rival Palaniswami-led group to retain the party name and symbol. Corporate scams with political ramifications such as AgustaWestland VVIP Chopper deal, Aircel Maxis, AirAsia and 2G spectrum allocation too hogged the limelight in the high court in the year going by.
Others who faced tough time in the high court included Bhushan Steel and promoters Brij Bhushan and Neeraj Singal, Ranbaxy (Malvinder and Shivinder Singh) and Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd. Indiabulls claimed it was losing revenue and its money lending has come to a standstill ever since a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed against it in September alleging misappropriation of funds. The matter is still pending in the high court.
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Similarly, the Singh brothers are facing heat from several agencies which are investigating fraud and money laundering cases allegedly involving them. Both the parties were seen approaching the high court during the year for seeking relief in their respective cases. The two brothers are also facing proceedings for execution of Rs 3,500 crore arbitral award passed against them and in favour of Japanese company – Daiichi Sankyo – in which the high court has already freezed all their assets.
The ugly fight between top brass of the CBI also reached the high court which dismissed the plea of then Special Director Rakesh Asthana and DSP Devender Kumar to quash an FIR lodged against them on bribery allegations with the approval of agency’s ex-chief Alok Kumar Verma. Towards the year-end, the national capital witnessed an ugly and violent spat between lawyers and the police in the Tis Hazari court complex over a parking issue which led to an intervention by the high court. It protected both sides from any coercive action while the incident is still being probed by a judicial commission.
However, during the massive violence in the wake of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the high court did not take suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the situation and refused to give any protection to agitating students of Jamia Milia Islamia University from coercive action. The high court’s decision not to provide any interim protection did not go well with the students’ lawyers who shouted derogatory words when the bench headed by Chief Justice D N Patel was rising and several advocates rushed to the court demanding contempt action.
Jamia was not the only varsity whose students were involved in litigation in the high court which also saw the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) seeking contempt action against its students who were protesting against hostel fees hike by blocking access to the administrative building in the campus in violation of judicial orders.
The other developments in the high court included several PILs seeking directions to the Centre to draft a Uniform Civil Code for the country, dismissal of former Union minister and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s plea against the amendments in money laundering law through Money Bills and Himachal Pradesh’s former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s petition challenging framing of charges against him in a disproportionate assets case.
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Source: Financial Express