Grappling with a sexual harassment complaint against former WFI chief and BJP strongman Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a raft of cases related to the alleged excise policy scam involving Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) bigwigs, including Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh, the UAPA case against news portal NewsClick and the glaring breach in Parliament security, Delhi’s district judiciary was a hive of activity in 2023.
A special court dealing with the excise policy matters denied bail to former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in the alleged corruption and money laundering cases lodged by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, respectively.
The court also denied bail to senior AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh in a money laundering case linked to the alleged scam.
A Rouse Avenue court for cases against lawmakers saw the then Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Singh locked in a legal wrangle with a group of women grapplers who accused him of sexual harassment.
The court summoned Singh, accused of having committed offences like outraging the modesty of the women wrestlers, making sexually-coloured remarks, stalking and criminal intimidation, and granted him bail after he appeared before the judge, saying “no purpose will be served by taking him in custody, at this stage”. It said, “When undertrial prisoners are detained in jail to an indefinite period, Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of Constitution is violated”.
Another court dealing with cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act heard arguments on a report filed by the Delhi Police seeking closure of a sexual harassment complaint filed by a minor wrestler against Singh.
The court has reserved for January 11 its order on whether to accept the police report.
In a surprise twist to the scandal, the girl’s father said amid raging protests by the wrestlers and their sympathisers that she had accused Singh of sexual harassment because of perceived injustice to her.
The case against news portal NewsClick before a Delhi court under anti-terror law- the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act- involving its founder Prabir Purkayastha and human resources department head Amit Chakravarty also made the headlines.
The presiding judge, at the fag end of the year, received an application by Chakravarty seeking to turn an approver in the case being probed by the Delhi Police. The court also granted police more time to complete its investigation in the case.
The Parliament security breach case grabbed the headlines during December, with a Delhi court dealing with the custody proceedings of the six arrested accused. The court also received an application from police seeking polygraph test of all of them. It will be taken up for hearing on January 2.
Cases related to the 2020 North East Delhi riots also hogged newspaper headlines. In one such matter, a special Delhi court discharged student activists Sharjeel Imam and Asif Iqbal Tanha in the Jamia Nagar violence case, saying as the Delhi Police was unable to apprehend the actual perpetrators, it booked the accused as “scapegoats”.
The court asked Delhi Police Commissioner Sanjay Arora to instruct all investigating officers (IOs) in cases related to the 2020 riots “to compulsorily attend the proceedings at the stage of consideration of charges”.
A Delhi court also summoned former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in a criminal complaint filed by Union Minister Gajendra Singh Sekhawat, who accused him of defamation.
Another court acquitted former Haryana Minister Gopal Goyal Kanda in the abetment to suicide case involving former air hostess Geetika Sharma.
A Delhi court sent a case related to the Pul Bangash killings during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, in which Congress leader Jagdish Tytler is an accused, to the district judge for further proceedings.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vidhi Gupta Anand sent the case to the district judge so the matter could be committed to a sessions judge, noting that Tytler, a former union minister, was accused of murder (punishable under sections 302 of IPC. The offence entails a maximum punishment of death penalty in the rarest of rare cases.
Three people were killed and a gurdwara was set ablaze in Pul Bangash area here on November 1, 1984, a day after the then prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.
A Delhi court on November 25 handed double rigorous life imprisonment to four members of an organised crime syndicate for killing TV journalist Soumya Vishwanathan around 15 years ago.
In another major development, a court here started the trial of Aaftab Amin Poonawala for the alleged murder of his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar. He has been accused of chopping her body into pieces before throwing the parts away in secluded places to destroy evidence.
Another Delhi court framed charges against the seven accused in the hit-and-run case where a 20-year-old woman was dragged to death while trapped under a car in the national capital on new year’s day a year ago.
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, his wife and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi, and their son Tejashwi Yadav, the incumbent deputy chief minister, were summoned in the railways land for job scam case.