Cases of high and mighty, VVIP chopper scam kept trial courts busy in 2018

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Dec 29, 2018, 02:41 PM IST

Japanese journalist Shiori Ito holds a banner reading "Victory" outside the Tokyo District Court after a court verdict ordered in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo December 18, 2019. Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

The eventful year in courts saw British national Michel, brought to India on December 4 after his extradition from the UAE in connection with the AgustaWestland chopper deal.

Cases involving political bigwigs like P Chidambaram, Lalu Prasad and Shashi Tharoor made headlines in 2018 from Delhi courts which drew global attention while dealing with the case of extradited alleged middleman Christian Michel in the VVIP chopper scam.

The eventful year in courts saw British national Michel, who was brought to India on December 4 after his extradition from the UAE in connection with the AgustaWestland chopper deal, spending 14 days in CBI custody and now in jail.

While Michel's case drew eyeballs, fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, who is currently in London and has been declared a proclaimed offender here for evading summons in a money laundering case related to alleged FERA violation, also faced the heat when a court ordered attachment of his properties.

The #MeToo movement gathered momentum in India and forced veteran journalist and former union minister M J Akbar to approach a Delhi court with a private criminal defamation complaint against a scribe, who accused him of sexual misconduct nearly two decades ago.

Akbar, who had to resign as a minister following the uproar, has denied all the allegations.

Cases involving political heavyweights dominated court proceedings here and the year saw both the CBI and the ED tightening the noose around Congress leader P Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis case by filing charge sheets against them.

His party colleague Shashi Tharoor was also named in a charge sheet by Delhi Police for allegedly abetting the suicide of his wife Sunanda Pushkar. Police in its nearly 3,000-page charge sheet also accused the former union minister of subjecting his wife to cruelty.

The Congress further suffered an embarrassment when ED filed a charge sheet against former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, accusing him of projecting around Rs 7 crore proceeds of crime as agricultural income in connivance with others and investing these in purchasing LIC policies.

The trial courts also dealt with some of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases and in one case, the death sentence was awarded to a man and life imprisonment to another for killing two persons in south Delhi's Mahipalpur area.

Even Sajjan Kumar, who after his conviction and a life term in one such case resigned from the Congress, was attending the trial court in connection with another anti-Sikh riots case.

So was the case of another senior Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, who is finding it hard to get discharged from his alleged involvement in the riots even after the CBI gave him a clean chit and sought closure of the case against him.

The criminal case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against Congress leaders including Rahul and Sonia Gandhi in the National Herald case also made news from the trial court.

The RJD, an ally of the Congress in Bihar, also had a bad time as its top leadership including jailed chief Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and son Tejaswi Yadav had to face legal proceedings in the IRCTC scam.

Lalu's daughter Misa Bharti and her husband Shailesh Kumar were summoned as accused and granted bail in a separate money laundering case in which the ED had earlier attached their Delhi farmhouse.

Aam Aadmi Party and its leadership continued to hog the limelight from trial courts which summoned Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as accused in Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash assault case along with his deputy and others.

Kejriwal had a sigh of relief when he settled various defamation cases against himself by apologising to Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari and ex-Union minister Kapil Sibal's son Amit Sibal.

While politicians were facing the heat in the trial courts here, bureaucrats also had a tough time, particularly in cases arising out of the alleged coal block allocation scam during Congress-led UPA regime with former coal secretary H C Gupta getting three-year imprisonment in one such case.

Gupta, the coal secretary from December 31, 2005, to November 2008, has already been convicted in two other cases of coal block allocation in which he has been sentenced for two and three years respectively. He is out on bail in all the cases. Two other bureaucrats also were convicted in Coalgate cases.

The CBI vs CBI case also had its imprint on the courts as the agency arrested one of its own Deputy Superintendents of Police and an alleged middleman.

While DySP Devender Kumar was released after the CBI preferred not to oppose his bail, alleged Dubai-based middleman Manoj Prasad secured relief after the agency failed to file its charge sheet within the stipulated time.

A trial court also framed molestation charges against former TERI chief R K Pachauri in a case of alleged sexual harassment.

The year witnessed anti-terror agencies tightening the noose against terror funding in Jammu and Kashmir with NIA filing charge sheet against separatists and naming Hafiz Saeed, the head of banned terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, for allegedly conspiring to wage a war against the country.

The NIA also arrested and charged Syed Shahid Yusuf, son Salahuddin, with indulging in unlawful activities and raising funds for terror operations in a separate case of 2011.