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The Week That Was: The Delhi High Court

Smrithi Suresh

The Delhi High Court closed for summer vacations on Friday, June 3. This being the last fully working week (vacation Benches are expected to assemble during the month of June) for the Court, an ample number of important cases were heard by the different Benches. In addition, judgment was reserved in a number of significant matters.

As the court goes on its annual summer break, here are the some of the significant developments from the Delhi High Court in the past week.

Monday, May 30

Setback for Virbhadra Singh; Court refuses stay on attachment proceedings

Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh whose name has figured in multiple cases of corruption suffered a minor setback at the beginning of the week when the High Court refused to stay attachment proceedings undertaken by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the assets of Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh.

Singh and his wife had sought a stay on the provisional attachment order (PAO) of March 23 and the proceedings initiated by ED against them under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The Division Bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath however, clarified that any order passed by the adjudicating authority will not take effect during the pendency of Singh’s petition in the High Court.

Tuesday, May 31

PIL seeking uniformity in school syllabus throughout India

The High Court saw an interesting issue raised this week when a Public Interest Litigation was filed seeking directions from the Court for uniform education syllabus for all children aged 6-14 years in India.

The petition, filed for the purposes of developing the socially and economically downtrodden, saw Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath issuing notice to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and Ministry of Law.

Bench v Media: ToI blinks first

The recent clash between two institutions, with a disgruntled litigant addressing a letter to Chief Justice of India TS Thakur complaining about the alleged “tardy disposal of cases” by Justice Gita Mittal of the Delhi High Court, saw another development this week.

The Times of India, which had published the said letter, carried an unconditional apology to Justice Mittal after the Delhi High Court Bar Association and certain other eminent senior counsel had picked up cudgels favoring the judge.

One Bar One Vote, rules Delhi High Court

A Division Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Siddharth Mridul handed out a significant verdict this week when it held that a member of the High Court or District Court Bar association will be allowed to contest for a post or cast her vote only for one such association.

The verdict which is expected to have significant ramifications for all litigating lawyers in Delhi, also held that voting members or those advocates contesting elections to all Bar Associations in Delhi will have to submit a declaration that they have not participated in the elections of any other Bar Association. On submission of a false declaration to this effect, the advocate will be suspended from membership for three years.

Wednesday, June 1

Court reserves verdict in in share transfer dispute between Kalanithi Maran-SpiceJet

Justice Manmohan Singh,  who has been hearing the share transfer dispute between SpiceJet Airways and its erstwhile founder Kalanithi Maran, reserved orders in the case this week.  Justice Singh had earlier expressed his doubts over the means by which SpiceJet was to secure the shares due to its former founder/owner, Maran.

The genus of the dispute arose last year when Maran & KAL had transferred 58.4% of their shares in SpiceJet to co-founder of the airline, Ajay Singh. This deal also stipulated that both sellers (Maran & KAL) were entitled to receipt of redeemable warrants in return for the amount of 700 crores that they had invested in the airlines for operating costs and debt payment.

Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhviappearing for Maran & KAL Airways had then submitted that as per the terms of the agreement between both parties, Maran was also supposed to make a fixed deposit of 100 crore rupees which was duly performed. However, Sibal argued that SpiceJet failed to inform the petitioners that they had received consent from the concerned banks over the money and due to this misinformation, the petitioners could not deposit the 100 crores.

Thursday, June 2

FDC Drug Ban: Bench reserves order

In yet another important case,  Justice RS Endlaw reserved its verdict in the batch of cases filed by pharma companies challenging the Health Ministry’s ban on 344 FDC (Fixed Dose Combination) drugs.

Justice Endlaw who has been hearing final arguments in the case for two months now, reserved his orders today on a batch of nearly 300-odd petitions filed by different pharma companies. 

The stay order on the Government’s notification that was initially granted to Pfizer Ltd, prompted a slew of pharmaceutical companies to knock on the doors of the High Court.

Sushil Kumar’s road to Rio; High Court to decide fate soon

Professional wrestler Sushil Kumar had previously filed a petition seeking conduct of trials for selection to the 74-kg men’s freestyle event for the Rio Olympics. Olympic medallist Kumar and fellow wrestler Narsingh Yadav are engaged in a selection battle for a spot in the wrestling squad going to the Olympics this year.

While earlier, Justice Manmohan had refused to intervene in disputes pertaining to Olympic selections, seeing an impasse over the dispute all parties had returned to Court again and sought a relief from the Bench. Over lengthy arguments heard over two days, the Bench finally reserved its verdict and will pronounce its decision now on Monday, June 6.

Friday, June 3

Way to electoral reforms? High Court may intervene 

On the last working day of the Court before it broke for summer vacations, a PIL was listed before the Chief’s Court which sought to disallow persons convicted of an offence from contesting elections.

The PIL filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, challenges Section 8 and 9 of the Representation of People Act 1951 which allows for a convicted individual to contest polls after the disqualification period of six years.

Other significant issues raised by the plea include the imposition of a lifetime ban on convicts from contesting elections, forming a political party and becoming office bearer of a political party.

Movie actor Rajpal Yadav will go to jail, directs Court

In a contempt proceeding, the High Court directed actor Rajpal Yadav to imprisonment of ten days. The Court was hearing recovery proceedings initiated against Yadav and his wife that were initiated by a businessman, MG Agarwal. Agarwal had alleged that the couple borrowed Rs 5 crore from him for the purpose of Yadav’s directorial debut some years back and never returned the money.

Justice S. Muralidhar did not mince his words in the sentencing order which read like this:

“This case presents a shocking state of affairs. Rajpal and his wife have already been punished for contempt of court and the case has been kept pending only on the question of sentence. Instead of mitigating the contempt committed, the defendants (Yadavs) have systematically aggravated the contempt by making misleading statements in court and acting in defiance of the court’s order. Added to this unfortunate state of affairs is the untruths spoken by their counsel in the court.”

The Court had earlier held the couple guilty of contempt of court in connection with the same pending suit.

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