New Delhi: Cases of corruption and multi- crore rupee scams hogged the limelight in 2014 with names of the high and mighty, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cropping up in trial courts here besides bringing down curtains on the 1975 murder case of the then Railway Minister L N Mishra.
Several top corporates and bureaucrats also came under scanner for their alleged role in matters like coal blocks allocation scam and 2G spectrum-related cases with the courts tightening the noose around them and premier probe agency CBI facing some intense scrutiny on its investigations.
The year witnessed politicians like Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, Union minister Smriti Irani being summoned by trial courts across the national capital as accused in cases filed against them while Aam Aadmi Party leader and former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had to spend six days in Tihar jail.
CBI had a tough time in politically-sensitive cases throughout the year. However, a special court accepted its charge sheet and summoned Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others as accused in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.
The premier agency, however, was left red faced when it was unable to explain properly the queries posed by the judge in coal scam matters with the court terming its probe as “sketchy”.
CBI’s move to close some of the coal blocks allocation cases came under strict scrutiny of the court which refused to accept the closure reports and even directed the probe agency to quiz Manmohan Singh in one of the coals cam matters allegedly involving top industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and others.
Apart from Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, those summoned on a complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy alleging cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of the now-defunct daily National Herald were AICC Treasurer Moti Lal Vohra, General Secretary Oscar Fernandes and two others. However, the trial court order was stayed by the Delhi High Court.
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s name figured in the court with CBI informing the judge that it was probing how the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval was given to Rs 3500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006.
A criminal defamation complaint filed by former IPS officer R B Sreekumar against BJP leader Narendra Modi, before he became the prime minister, and others for allegedly launching a malicious campaign against him in connection with the 1994 ISRO spying case was dismissed by a trial court.
Besides these cases, the nearly 40-year-old case of murder of Lalit Narayan Mishra, which was one of the oldest pending cases in the country and which witnessed a number of twists and turns during the trial, attained finality in a trial court which awarded life imprisonment to the four convicts.
Similarly, it took 13 years for trial court to deliver the verdict in the 2001 murder of bandit-turned-MP Phoolan Devi in which the lone convict, Sher Singh Rana, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the judge who did not award him death penalty noting that motive behind the murder could not be established by the police.
Besides these cases, the judiciary acted tough in cases of sexual assault with five men getting life term in the sensational 2010 Dhaula Kuan gangrape case of a BPO executive hailing from the northeast.In a stern message to police officials in fake encounters, a trial court awarded life imprisonment to 17 Uttarakhand Police officials for murdering an MBA student in 2009 in a fake encounter in Dehradun.
In fresh trouble to former telecom minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others, already facing trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case probed by CBI, Enforcement Directorate (ED) swung into action by naming them in a charge sheet in a money laundering case related to the mega scam.
The special court, thereafter, put them on trial in the case by framing charges against them under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
In the Tatra truck deal graft case, the trial court sent accused Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh to jail after dismissing his bail plea observing no “mercy” should be shown only because he was not arrested during the probe. The case related to alleged bribe offer by Tejinder to then Army Chief Gen V K Singh for clearing Tatra vehicles file. Tejinder was later on granted bail by the high court.
The Rs 10-crore cash-for-post railway bribery case, which led to resignation of the then Railway Minister Pawan Bansal after his nephew’s name cropped up as accused, saw charges being framed against 10 accused under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC. Bansal, who has been made a prosecution witness in the case, appeared in the court to record his testimony.
Names of then Syndicate Bank CMD S K Jain and others came up in a corruption case with CBI arresting them in connection with the matter. Jain was later suspended from his post.
At the fag end of the year, the court also conducted proceedings related to the rape of a woman allegedly by a cab driver of US-based service provider Uber, wherein the accused refused to undergo the test identification parade.
One of the trial courts here also stressed on the need of having separate lock-ups, prisons and other provisions for the transgenders, who were declared as “third gender” by Supreme Court, saying they have the full legal rights and “cannot be shuttled between man and woman depending upon convenience”.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper