Legal wrap February 14: Excise Policy case: AAP leader Sanjay Singh Moves Supreme Court against Delhi High Court denying him bail in money laundering case & more

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1. Delhi High Court dismissed AAP leader Sanjay Singh’s bail plea in money laundering case on February 7

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh has moved the Supreme Court challenging an order of the Delhi High Court refusing to grant him bail in a money laundering case connected with alleged irregularities in the now-defunct Delhi Excise Policy. The High Court, in an order passed on February 7, dismissed Singh’s bail plea, saying that in view of the material against the AAP leader, including the statements of the approver and the witnesses, bail cannot be granted to him at this stage. The High Court had further said that the issue of admissibility of the statement of approver Dinesh Arora, cannot be tested at the stage of grant of bail and it would be tested at the time of trial. “No ground for grant of bail to the accused (Singh) at this stage is made out,” Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said while dismissing Singh’s bail plea. Singh argued before the High Court that he has been in custody in the money laundering case since October and no role has been attributed to him in the predicate offence. He had further argued that he cannot be made an accused in the money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as his name was not there in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) First Information Report (FIR) and he was arrested after ED’s “star witness (Dinesh Arora)” made a statement. The ED had opposed Singh’s plea seeking grant of bail, saying that he is a key conspirator in the alleged scam and was closely associated with a number of accused or suspects in this case and was involved in acquiring, possessing, concealing, dissipating and using proceeds of crime generated from the alleged scam in the formulation and implementation of the excise policy. The ED had further said that the investigation revealed that the AAP leader has received Rs 2 crore proceeds of crime and he has been in possession of certain confidential documents pertaining to the investigation of this case which are not in public domain. Earlier, the trial court had rejected Singh’s plea seeking bail, saying that the ED has showed that accused-turned-approver Dinesh Arora paid Rs 2 crore to Singh and that he was connected with the “proceeds of crime to the extent of Rs 2 crore” and the case against him was “genuine”.

Also read: Excise Policy case: AAP leader Sanjay Singh Moves Supreme Court against Delhi High Court denying him bail

2. Apex court had asked amicus curiae to look into issue of women prisoners getting pregnant inside jails in West Bengal

The Supreme Court has been told that 62 babies were born in the jails of West Bengal during the last four years and most of the women who delivered babies were expecting when they were brought to the jail. Senior advocate Gaurav Agrawal, who was appointed an amicus curiae to assist the court in a matter titled ‘Inhuman conditions in 1,382 prisons’ told this to the apex court in an application filed in response to the direction of the apex court to look into the issue of women inmates getting pregnant inside jails in the state of West Bengal and submit a report in this regard. Agrawal, told the top court that he has received information regarding children born to women prisoners while in custody for last 4 years of all child births in the jails in the state of West Bengal from Additional Director General and Inspector General, Correctional Services, West Bengal on February 10, which “indicates that there were 62 children born in the jails in West Bengal during the last 4 years.” “It appears that most of the women prisoners were already expecting at the time when they were brought to the jails. In some cases, the women prisoners had gone out on parole and returned back expecting,” Agrawal said in an application filed in the top court. Agrawal has filed the application before the top court in a matter relating to alleged inhuman conditions prevailing in various prisons across the country and sought the directions of the top court in light of reports suggesting women prisoners in West Bengal getting pregnant while in custody. A top court bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah had last week taken cognisance of the allegations that the women prisoners in West Bengal jails were getting pregnant inside the jails and had asked amicus curiae to look into the issue and submit a report before it in this regard.

Also read: 62 babies were born in West Bengal jails in last 4 years, most of women prisoners were already expecting, amicus curiae tells Supreme Court

3. Umar Khalid’s bail plea came up for hearing many times but could not be heard due to one or another reason

Former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student, Umar Khalid, accused of conspiring and instigating Delhi 2020 riots following anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in 2019, has withdrawn his bail petition from the Supreme Court. Appearing for Khalid, senior advocate Kapil Sibal submitted to the court that they wished to withdraw the petition due to a change of circumstances and move the trial court for appropriate relief. A bench of Justices Bela Trivedi and Justice Pankaj Mithal allowed Khalid to withdraw his bail plea. Umar Khalid has been in jail since 2020 and had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2022, challenging a Delhi High Court order that refused to release him on bail. Along with the bail petition, Khalid had also challenged legality of various provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) under which Khalid has been booked. In the last year, Khalid’s bail plea came up for hearing many times but could not be heard due to one reason or another, leading to reports suggesting that Delhi Police was dragging its feet on the hearing. Khalid has been booked under sections 13, 16, 17, and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 for indulging in unlawful activities, terrorist acts, raising funds for terrorist act and conspiracy for terrorist acts.

Also read: Umar Khalid withdraws his bail plea from Supreme Court

4. Delhi High Court earlier directed authorities to ensure Yasin Malik is provided proper medical treatment

The Delhi High Court was informed on Wednesday that separatist leader and the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik was examined by doctors at AIIMS and was provided with necessary medical treatment.The Centre and the Tihar Jail told Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta that Malik was taken to AIIMS, was examined by the doctors there and discharged after being provided with necessary medical treatment and he would be provided the requisite medical treatment as and when required. The response of the Centre and Tihar Jail came on a plea of the separatist leader who had approached the High Court through his mother, claiming that he was suffering from serious cardiac and kidney problems and he be provided medical treatment at AIIMS or any other private super-specialty hospital in the national capital or in Jammu and Kashmir for proper and necessary medical treatment for his medical problems. Justice Mendiratta, while recording the submissions of the Centre and the Tihar Jail, disposed of Malik’s petition. The High Court had earlier on February 2 directed the Superintendent of the Tihar Jail to ensure that proper medical treatment is provided to Malik, who is serving life sentence in Tihar Jail in a terror funding case.

Also read: Separatist leader Yasin Malik taken to AIIMS, provided necessary medical treatment, Delhi High Court told by authorities

5. Managing committee of Shahi Masjid in Dhaula Kuan got status quo order on factually incorrect averments: DDA

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the managing committee of the Shahi Masjid and Qabristan Kangal Shah situated in Dhaula Kuan in the national capital on a plea of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) seeking vacation of stay on taking any coercive action against the mosque, graveyard and a school. The managing committee of the Shahi Masjid, which has claimed that mosque is over 100-year-old, and Qabristan Kangal Shah had earlier moved the High Court apprehending demolition and the High Court had on November 2 last year directed the authorities to not take any action, as of now, against the mosque, graveyard and the school. The DDA submitted before Justice Sachin Datta that the said area forms part of Central Ridge and is a protected area and the religious committee of the Delhi Government has approved removal of encroachment there. It further submitted that the petitioner has made false and factually incorrect averments in its writ petition before the High Court on which the status quo order was granted. During the hearing of the matter, Justice Datta sought to know from the counsel of the DDA as to whether the encroachment includes the mosque and on what basis the authorities were contemplating removal of the mosque. While making it clear on the point of encroachment that the sanctity of the ridge has to be maintained and no one can be allowed to encroach upon the forest area, the High Court asked the DDA counsel if the mosque is in existence for so long, under what law it wants to remove it. “On what basis do you want to take the action? You make a clear and cogent case. Give me the exact dimensions. What is that you want to remove and why,” the High Court asked the DDA counsel and asked the DDA to explain all the questions on the next hearing on February 29, news agency PTI reported. The High Court has directed the managing committee of the Shahi Masjid and Qabristan Kangal Shah to file its response within 10 days on DDA’s application seeking vacation of stay granted on November 2, 2023.

Also read: Delhi HC issues notice on DDA plea seeking to vacate stay on action against over 100-year-old mosque, graveyard in Dhaula Kuan

6. Delhi High Court earlier ordered to maintain status quo with respect to translocation of deer

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Delhi Development Authority to conduct a census of spotted deer in ‘Deer Park’ located in the Hauz Khas area in the national capital. A bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora was hearing a plea filed by petitioner New Delhi Nature Society regarding the translocation of deer from ‘Deer Park’ following the cancellation of its recognition as a “mini zoo” by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA). The bench suggested that some of deer may be translocated to other green areas of the city if the existing facility was overburdened, observing that observed that there are several “city forests” like Jahanpanah where excess deer could be relocated while the ‘Deer Park’ continued to house at least 50 of them. “Children residing in the city get to see them. Why do you want to deprive Delhiites of this facility? Don’t do away with this facility,” the bench said. During the hearing, the counsel for the petitioner urged the bench to direct the DDA to provide data on population of deer, submitting that the basis for cancellation of the recognition of ‘Deer Park’ as “mini zoo” was “population explosion” among deer in ‘Deer Park’. The bench agreed for the same and directed the DDA to conduct a deer population census. “The DDA is directed to carry out a census of the deer population at the zoo after categorising them into male, female, sub-adults and juveniles, and provide a chart depicting the total population as on date,” the High Court ordered, news agency PTI reported. The CZA had cancelled the recognition of ‘Deer Park’ as a “mini zoo” on June 8 last year and after the matter reached the High Court, the High Court in December last year had directed authorities to maintain status quo with respect to translocation of spotted deer from the ‘Deer Park’.

Also read: Delhi High Court asks DDA to carry out deer census in ‘Deer Park’

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