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Religious intolerance, riots, and Bollywood kept Delhi courts busy in 2022

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New Delhi, Dec 29 (PTI): High-profile corruption cases against Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia, minister Satyendar Jain, former NSE boss Chitra Ramakrishna and ex-Mumbai police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey hogged the limelight in Delhi courts during 2022.

Fact-checking website Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair’s custody, separatist leader Yasin Malik pleading guilty of terror financing, the terror case against former JNU student Umar Khalid and the money laundering case against Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandez were some of the other highlights as the courts made a transition from the virtual to physical mode following improvement in the Covid situation.

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Cross-border India-Bangladesh cattle smuggling case against TMC leaders, including the party’s Birbhum strongman Anubrata Mondal also made news.

A Delhi court dismissed a string of applications of jailed Delhi health minister Satyender Jain in a money laundering case,  including one seeking bail and the other for a direction to Tihar jail officials for special food keeping in view his religious beliefs.

The court came down hard on Jain holding he was prime facie being given “preferential treatment” inside the jail in violation of the rules which was later “rightly” stopped.

As a row erupted over videos apparently showing him getting favours inside the jail, Jain also moved applications seeking contempt action against Tihar officials for leaking footages from his prison cell and for restraining media from publishing them. He, however, later withdrew both the applications.

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Mohammed Zubair was arrested on June 27 in a case related to a 2018 “objectionable tweet” against a Hindu deity. He was granted bail on July 15 by the court, which said, “The voice of dissent is necessary for a healthy democracy” and that the Hindu religion and its followers are “tolerant.”

Cases related to terrorism, including those involving the now banned PFI and the one in which anti-terror probe agency NIA arrested its own former Superintendent of Police Arvind Digvijay Negi, were heard aplenty.

Kashmiri separatist leader Mohammad Yasin Malik was convicted in a terror funding case and was awarded life imprisonment. While convicting him, the judge said the crimes committed by him were intended to strike at the heart of the “idea of India” and forcibly secede J&K from the Union of India.

Another court in December discharged former JNU student Umar Khalid along with United Against Hate founder Khalid Saifi in one case related to the 2020 northeast Delhi riots. While Saifi was granted regular bail in another case, Khalid could only secure a seven-day interim bail to attend his sister’s marriage. Both face charges under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA and continue to remain in jail.

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Sharjeel Imam, another former JNU student, was also able to secure bail in a sedition case in which he was accused of instigating the December 2019 Jamia riots. He is, however, still in jail in cases related to the Delhi riots.

A city court ordered framing of charges against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Tahir Hussain and others in several cases related to the North East Delhi riots through the year.

The case related to the Jahangirpuri riots during a Hanuman Jayanti procession in April where a police sub-inspector was shot, also made the headlines during the year. In a charge sheet filed before the court, 45 people were charged with criminal conspiracy and other offences.

Besides the case against Zubair, the courts also dealt with a substantial number of other matters of allegedly hurting religious sentiments, including the arrest of Delhi University Associate Professor Ratan Lal in May for his “objectionable remarks” on social media related to the claims of a ‘Shivling’ being found at Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque. The court said his post, though reprehensible, did not indicate an attempt to promote hatred between communities.

In another case, a Delhi court directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to not remove two idols of Lord Ganesha from the Qutub Minar complex till further orders.

A court also dealt with the custody of the accused in the Bulli Bai app case related to mock “auction” of Muslim women that triggered outrage.

In yet another case of alleged religious intolerance, filmmaker Leena Manimekalai had to appear before a court here in response to an application seeking to restrain her from depicting a Hindu goddess in her upcoming movie ‘Kaali’ in an “objectionable way”. The court will continue hearing the arguments in January.

Jacqueline Fernandez moved court in May seeking suspension of a ‘Look Out Circular (LOC)’ issued against her by the Enforcement Directorate in the Rs 200 crore extortion case involving alleged conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar, and permitting her to travel abroad.

The ED named her as an accused in its supplementary charge sheet filed in the case in August, after which she was summoned by the court and granted bail.

After the bail, the actor made a regular appearance before the court. She also moved an application seeking the court’s permission to go to Bahrian which she withdrew after the judge suggested letting the question of charge be decided first.

Nora Fatehi, another Bollywood actor, filed a criminal complaint against Fernandez and several media houses for allegedly defaming her by dragging her name into the case. The case will be taken up in January.

The alleged scam involving the AAP government’s now rescinded excise policy also resonated in courts. In a charge sheet filed before a court here, the ED alleged the excise policy caused a loss of Rs 2,873 crore to the exchequer and was a device created by AAP leaders, some of who are part of the Delhi government, to generate illegal funds.

It alleged that several prominent people from south India, including K Kavitha, a Telangana MLC and daughter of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, MP from Ongole (Andhra Pradesh), his son Raghav Magunta, and others, had given kickbacks of around Rs 100 crore to AAP leaders  in return for favours and undue benefits to them in the liquor business.

The court also dealt with the custody and bail matters of arrested AAP communication in-charge Vijay Nair and others in the alleged excise scam. The court allowed businessman Dinesh Arora, an accused and a reported close aide to Manish Sisodia, to turn an approver.

The case related to alleged India-Bangladesh border cattle smuggling, in which TMC’s Anubrata Mondal, its youth wing leader Vinay Mishra, BSF Commandant Satish Kumar and alleged kingpin Mohammad Enamul Haque are accused, also kept the courts in the national capital busy.

While a court issued a production warrant against Mondal to bring him to Delhi, it also declared Mishra a proclaimed offender (PO) in the case.

The cases related to Sidhu Moosewala’s killing, the alleged coal scam in West Bengal allegedly involving TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee, the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire in which businessmen Sushil and Gopal Ansal were awarded 7-year jail term for tampering with evidence and the Chhatrasal Stadium murder case against Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar were the other highlights.

The alleged visa scam case against Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, issuance and subsequent withdrawal of LOC against Aakar Patel, Director-CEO of Amnesty International India, and alleged abduction, gang-rape and parading of a 20-year-old woman in east Delhi’s Kasturba Nagar also kept making the front pages of the national dailies in the year gone by.

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The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur
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