New Delhi: Cases related to the high and mighty including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dominated proceedings in 2015 in Delhi courts with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul also appearing as accused in the National Herald case.
Though Singh got relief from the Supreme Court which on April 1 stayed the March 11 order of special CBI court summoning him to appear as accused in a coal block allocation scam case, Congress supremo and her son appeared in the Patiala House courts after failing to get relief from the Delhi High Court.
However, the two leaders along with others, got regular bail on December 19 in the case in which they are accused of misappropriating funds to the tune of Rs 90.25 crore as the party utilised the occasion to the hilt by turning it into a show of strength and all legal eagles of Congress appearing for them.
Apart from the mother-son duo, Congress leaders Moti Lal Vora, Oscar Fernandes and Suman Dubey also had to appear as accused in the court. The sixth accused, Sam Pitroda, was granted exemption from personal appearance and was directed to appear in court on the next hearing on February 20 along with others.
Similar was the scene two days later on December 21 when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley came to Patiala House Courts along with several union ministers and BJP leaders to file a criminal defamation complaint against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders for allegedly making defamatory statements against him regarding the affairs of Delhi’s cricket body DDCA.
The ghost of coalgate kept haunting Manmohan Singh as demands were regularly raised either to summon him as accused or witness in one or the other case arising out of it and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda, an accused in one of the cases, unsuccessfully made an attempt in this regard.
The year saw many politicians including former MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal, former ministers of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao and Santosh Bagrodia, and Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda facing the heat in coal scam cases.
The proceedings in the Aircel-Maxis deal case involving former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and others moved at a snail’s pace in the special court with CBI still entangling in the process of executing summons issued against four accused based in Malaysia.
The long arm of the law and tough stand of judiciary on
corruption cases were manifested when the court awarded four- and-a half-year jail term to Congress leader and former Union minister P K Thungon, who was also a former Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, along with others in a 17-year-old case.
Jagdish Tytler and former Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss were at the receiving end with courts framing charges against the Congress leader in an alleged cheating case while the PMK leader was ordered to be put on trial in two graft cases.
Tytler’s name again came to fore when CBI was directed to conduct further probe in 1984 anti-Sikh riots case against him with the court observing that statement of arms dealer Abhishek Verma discloses an active role played by the Congress leader in extending “helping hand” to a witness against him.
The year saw first conviction in a 2010 Commonwealth Games related graft case in which six persons were awarded varying jail terms.
The court also delivered verdict in CBI’s 1987 Hashimpura massacre case, in which 42 Muslims were gunned down after they were picked up from a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut district, in which 16 accused Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel were acquitted.
The courts also heard criminal cases filed against various politicians, including Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani, Union minister V K Singh, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, and former Delhi Law Ministers Jitender Singh Tomar and Somnath Bharti, during the year.
Elite probe agencies like CBI and Delhi Police’s Special Cell had to bite the dust in the additional 2G spectrum case and the sensational IPL spot-fixing case with the courts discharging all the accused listed in charge sheets in both the cases.
CBI had to face intense criticism when a special court not only discharged all the accused in the 2002 additional spectrum allocation scam case but also observed that its charge sheet was “full of distorted and fabricated facts”.
The court also directed CBI director to conduct an inquiry against the erring officials in the case.
CBI was again on the backfoot when the court exclusively dealing with all the coal scam cases repeatedly pulled it up for lacunae in its investigation.
The much-anticipated 2013 IPL-6 spot-fixing case, which had created an uproar in the cricketing world, fell flat in the court when all the accused including India’s Test discard S Sreesanth and two suspended cricketers Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan were discharged.
Acting tough on crime against women, a local court brought
the curtains down in the Uber cab rape case and awarded jail term to driver Shiv Kumar Yadav for reminder of his life.
During the year, a court also passed its judgement in a separate robbery case in which the four death row convicts of the sensational December 16 gangrape and murder case were awarded 10-year jail term.
Top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) bomb expert Abdul Karim Tunda, who was a prized catch for the agencies, had the last laugh in three separate cases lodged against him when Special Cell of Delhi Police could not produce prima facie sufficient evidence against him which led to his discharge in these matters.
Besides mighty politicians, the noose was tightened in alleged black money and tax evasion cases with the names of businessman Moin Qureshi, his wife and various others like Sahara Chief Subrata Roy and Kalanithi Maran, surfacing in courts this year.
The court also heard cases involving alleged terrorists and gangsters including underworld don Chhota Rajan, who was deported from Indonesia after being arrested in Bali.
Cases of crime against women involving some high profile accused, including former TERI Director General R K Pachauri, kept the courts busy in the national capital.
While court dealt with a case in which Pachauri is facing alleged charges of sexual harassment, it also conducted trial proceedings in an alleged rape case in which Mahmood Farooqui, co-director of Bollywood movie “Peepli Live”, is accused of raping an American research scholar at his residence here.
The court also dealt with a case pertaining to mysterious death of Sunanda Pushkar when it allowed the Delhi Police to conduct lie detector test on three persons, two of whom were employed by her husband and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.
The corporate espionage case in which sensitive documents were allegedly recovered from various persons, including some employees of corporate houses and public servants, too kept the court busy this year when the police filed charge sheet against 16 accused in two separate cases.
Besides these cases, courts also dealt with terror-related matters including the one involving Pakistani terrorist Mohd Naved Yakub, who was captured by villagers after the Udhampur terror attack that had left two BSF personnel dead.
During the year, the NIA told the court that Maharashtra government apprehends that suspected top LeT men Abu Jundal, an alleged mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai attacks, could be killed or kidnapped by rivals during his transit from jail to court.
Former SIMI chief Shahid Badr Falahi and underworld don Babloo Srivastava were acquitted by the courts this year in the cases lodged against them.