For the past many years, Supreme Court of India has often been the epicentre of legal battles involving political or religious colours. .Tilak Marg at New Delhi has often been the subject of intense media scrutiny for the past decade or so due to the nature of legal cases that reach the apex court.But the past couple of years have witnessed Mumbai courts stealing a lion's share of limelight due to various reasons - primarily due to the nature of persons involved in the legal disputes aside from the fact that Maharashtra government is headed by party which is at loggerheads with the Central government.Cases involving Arnab Goswami, Aryan Khan, Anil Deshmukh, Param Bir Singh and Sameer Wankhede ensured that the Bombay High Court and other courts in Mumbai were always in the news. What was noteworthy was that many of these disputes were characterised by tussle between the Central government and Maharashtra government or its agencies. .Let us take a look at five such cases from 2021. .The inception of this fight was a letter dated March 20, 2021 which senior IPS officer Param Bir Singh addressed to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Udhhav Thackeray.The letter alleged that State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh frequently interfered with police investigation in various cases and that Deshmukh was trying to extort money through dismissed Mumbai Police officer Sachin Waze from business establishments like bars and restaurants. .A few days after this letter, Singh approached the Bombay High Court seeking probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the allegations made by him against Deshmukh in the letter. Also before the Court were connected pleas which included a plea filed by one Dr. Jaishri Patil, seeking a probe by the CBI or any other independent agency into the allegations against Deshmukh.A Bombay High Court Bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta allowed the plea filed by Patil, and ordered CBI to first conduct a preliminary enquiry into the allegations of malpractices against Deshmukh levelled by the former Mumbai Police Commissioner. Deshmukh resigned as Home Minister immediately after the verdict. The CBI, subsequently registered an FIR against him and unknown others on April 21, 2021 for offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act.The legal battle was just getting started! Deshmukh's appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed after which he moved the High Court seeking quashing of the FIR. The High Court dismissed the petition observing that "at the stage of investigation, when the truth is yet to be unearthed, the Court cannot embark upon the inquiry into the correctness of the allegations." .Adding to Deshmukh's woes, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) initiated a probe against him and his associates alleging that he misused his position by directing Waze to collect money (approximately ₹4.7 crores) from various restaurants and bars in Mumbai and laundered the money through a Nagpur-based trust controlled by his family members.ED also issued five summons to Deshmukh asking him to appear for recording of statement, which Deshmukh challenged before the High Court. This plea was also dismissed by the High Court. Meanwhile a Mumbai court also issued notice to Deshmukh in ED's complaint seeking initiation of proceedings against Deshmukh for not obeying the summons issued to him.Deshmukh then appeared before the ED on November 1 and after a 12-hour interrogation, was arrested post midnight. Deshmukh is presently in judicial custody.Simultaneously, the ED provisionally attached assets worth ₹4.20 crores belonging to Deshmukh's family held in the name of his wife Aarti Deshmukh and a company Premier Port Links Private Limited. The wife challenged the ED action before the Bombay High Court. The Court allowed the Adjudicating Authority under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to continue with proceedings and pass a final order but restrained it from taking any coercive action based on final order..The case against Deshmukh and his arrest triggered a spate of litigation before the Bombay High Court between the State government and the CBI..Post the CBI FIR against Deshmukh, Maharashtra government approached the Bombay High Court alleging that certain portions of CBI FIR was intended to destabilise the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP government in the State. The plea contended that such a sweeping investigation will demoralise the State police force.CBI on the other hand, challenged the government's locus seeking quashing of FIR, contending that only the accused (Deshmukh) can approach the Court with such a prayer. While dismissing the petition, the High Court observed that the aspect of transfer and posting of police officers is essentially linked to the allegations of abuse of official position by the then Home Minister and his confederates. .After the dismissal of Maharashtra government's plea, the CBI approached the High Court with an application raising grievance that Maharashtra government was not co-operating with investigation and not providing documents as prayed for by the Central agency. The Bench pondered on why the State was refusing to furnish these documents, after categorically submitting that it had no issues with the ongoing CBI investigation against Deshmukh. Eventually State agreed to hand over documents in connection with the report submitted by IPS officer Rashmi Shukla.While recording the State, the Bench orally remarked that such issues need not have come before the Court in the first place and Central and State agencies normally cooperate with each other during investigations. .Two months into the incident, Maharashtra government again approached the Bombay High Court challenging summons issued by CBI to its Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte and Director General of Police (DGP) Sanjay Pandey in the investigation against Deshmukh. CBI opposed the plea stating that it was an attempt to scuttle and derail the CBI probe against Deshmukh.The High Court dismissed the plea with some adverse observations against State's conduct in connection to Deshmukh's FIR. The Bench expressed their doubts about the bonafide intention of the State for seeking recalling of the investigation from CBI..Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for his alleged involvement in a drug trafficking case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.Khan's arrest caused a furore and was the biggest legal story throughout October this year when he was under judicial custody after being denied bail twice. .Khan was taken into custody by NCB on October 2, 2021 after they raided a cruise ship en route to Goa from Mumbai. Many others on the cruise ship were also arrested and the case came to be known as cruise ship drug case. Khan was arrested from the terminal to the cruise for contravention of Sections 8(c), 20(b), 27, 28, 29 and 35 of NDPS Act. NCB claimed to have seized 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone MD, 21 gram charas and 22 pills of MDMA ecstasy from the raid. Khan was remanded to NCB custody till October 7 after which he was remanded to judicial custody. He immediately moved for bail, which was rejected by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate RM Nerlikar. The Magistrate held that the bail application was maintainable only before the Special Court. Subsequently, Khan moved the special court seeking bail, which came to be rejected on October 20. He then moved the Bombay High Court in appeal.The High Court granted bail to Khan on October 28 and he was released from jail on October 30. In the order granting bail, the High Court also observed there was no prima facie evidence against Khan for the offence alleged against him. Khan was detained in judicial custody for 25 days before he was granted bail..Wankhede made it to headlines in the second part of 2021 for reasons beyond his role as the zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). This was after NCB arrested 20 individuals including Shahrukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan in a drug case.While Khan was detained in judicial custody for 25 days before he was granted bail, this case triggered controversy which led to Wankhede being removed as lead probe officer from the Aryan Khan case..Before the cruise case, Wankhede was also investigating a drug case which involved the son-in-law of Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik. After Malik's son-in-law Sameer Khan was released on bail, Malik put up posts on his Twitter handle and raising conjectures that Wankhede may have forged his caste certificate in order to get into the Central Government Services. Wankhede’s father, Dhyandev Wankhede raised objection to these statements of Malik through a defamation suit in Bombay High Court. He submitted that his family was being targeted by Malik only because NCB had arrested Malik's son-in-law. While the suit is pending, Malik submitted a statement in Court to not make any more objectionable statements against Wankhede and his family till the defamation suit is disposed off..Wankhede’s family members also initiated independent proceedings against Malik. This includes, his relatives living in Wasim and sister, Yasmeen Wankhede, who raised an independent complaint against Malik before Mumbai Court, which is yet to be taken up for hearing.Meanwhile the Caste Scrutiny Committee of Mumbai district has initiated probe into Wankhede’s caste certificate based on complaints. There is also a public interest litigation pending before the Bombay High Court challenging Wankhede’s appointment in Indian Revenue Service (IRS) via Schedule Caste (SC) quota..A case of 2018, which is still stuck at pre-trial stage saw some major developments in 2021 - first, the death of one of the accused Father Stan Swamy and second, one of the accused Sudha Bharadwaj getting bail, making her the first accused to get bail other than on medical grounds. .Father Stan Swamy was arrested from his house in Ranchi on October 8, 2020 for his alleged role in inciting riots at Bhima Koregaon in 2018. He was the last and the oldest person to be arrested in the case and had remained in judicial custody till he passed away.Swamy moved the High Court seeking temporary bail on medical grounds in the appeals challenging the orders of the NIA Court refusing him bail.He was eventually admitted to Holy Family Hospital after an order of the High Court where he breathed his last..In early 2021, the High Court granted temporary medical bail of 6 months to Telugu poet Dr Varavara Rao whose wife Pendyala Hemlata who approached the Court seeking their intervention in view of the violation of Rao’s fundamental right to health. Rao was arrested in August 2018 and had been in judicial custody since, till he was eventually released on bail. While granting bail, the Court observed that the Constitutional Court cannot be a mute spectator to Rao being sent to prison and then to Government Hospitals where his health deteriorates further..In the latter part of 2021, after spending over three years in detention, lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj was granted bail in December 2021. She was the first default bail recipient in the case. The High Court granted bail to Bharadwaj on the ground that the extension of time for investigation and detention had not been done by a court of competent jurisdiction. The reasoning was upheld by the Supreme Court in the appeal filed by the NIA.