Delhi High Court seeks Central government response in suit for damages in relation to property forfeited during 1975 National Emergency

The plaintiffs are the children of the 94-year-old who moved the Supreme Court in December seeking to declare the Emergency as unconstitutional.
Delhi High Court seeks Central government response in suit for damages in relation to property forfeited during 1975 National Emergency
Delhi High Court, Emergency

The Delhi High Court today sought a response from the Central government in a suit seeking damages in relation to a property which was forfeited during the 1975 Emergency (Rajiv Sarin vs Directorate of Estates & Ors).

Summons in the suit was issued by a single-judge Bench of Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri.

The plaintiffs before the Court are Rajiv Sarin, Deepak Sarin and Radhika Sarin, the children of the 94-year-old who had moved the Supreme Court in December 2020 seeking to declare the Emergency as unconstitutional.

The suit is in relation to their property at Kasturba Gandhi Marg, which was taken over by the Central government authorities.

As per the plaintiffs, the genesis of their ordeal was the preventive detention order under the provisions of the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974, issued by the Delhi government in July 1975 against their father.

The plaintiffs' father was subsequently issued a show cause notice under Section 6 of Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1976. He was called upon to explain the sources of income, earnings, and means by which various assets including the KG Marg property were acquired.

While the plaintiffs' father filed various replies in response to the notice, the competent authority under the Smugglers Act passed an order which resulted in forfeiture of the KG Marg property.

Finally, in July 1999, the Union Ministry of Labour & Employment took over possession of the KG Marg property as forfeited property.

The plaintiffs state that prior to the issuance of the show cause notice, the property was admittedly leased out to the Government of India from time to time.

It is informed that after a series of litigation was fought by the plaintiffs and their mother, the proceedings under the Smugglers Act were set aside by the High Court as being a nullity and the authorities formally closed the proceedings in 2016.

It is now the plaintiffs' case that since the order of preventive detention has been revoked and the order of forfeiture has also been declared a nullity, the Central government must be held liable to pay Rs. 2,20,70,954 as damages in the form of loss of market rent and mesne profits for the period ranging from 1999-2020.

Advocate Sidhant Kumar appeared for the plaintiffs.

The matter will be taken by the Joint Registrar for completion of pleadings on February 26. The Court will hear the matter on April 26.

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