Year 2022 saw political slugfests in Maharashtra courtrooms, cases against alleged Maoists
Political turmoil in Maharashtra spilled over to the courts in 2022 with the arrests of leaders like Sanjay Raut, Nawab Malik and independent MP from Amravati Navneet Rana in different cases
Political turmoil in Maharashtra spilled over to the courts in 2022 with the arrests of leaders like Sanjay Raut, Nawab Malik and independent MP from Amravati Navneet Rana in different cases and subsequent legal battles over their bail applications.
The courts also dealt with litigation related to the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case of 2017 with some of the accused getting relief.
In February, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former minister in the then Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government Nawab Malik moved the Bombay High Court, seeking to quash an alleged money laundering case registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate.
The ED case is related to a land deal in Mumbai in which associates of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim were involved. Malik's plea is still pending.
In March, the ED arrested Malik in the case and subsequently a special court for the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases rejected his bail applications. Malik has now moved the High Court for bail.
April saw another high-profile case when Mumbai Police arrested Navneet Rana and her husband, MLA Ravi Rana after they announced that they would recite the Hanuman Chalisa outside then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's private residence 'Matoshree' in Mumbai.
About ten days later, the couple was granted bail by a court..
But arguably, the case that dominated headlines the most was that of Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut.
The high-profile Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader was arrested by the ED in July in a money laundering case linked to alleged fraud in the redevelopment project of a “chawl” (tenement).
Raut spent more than 100 days in prison before the special PMLA court granted him bail. The judge also termed his arrest as “illegal, without reason and a witch-hunt”.
On October 4, NCP leader and former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh obtained bail in another money laundering case being probed by the ED.
On December 12, Deshmukh was granted bail by the HC in an alleged corruption case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Deshmukh, however, is yet to be released as the court stayed the bail order to enable the central agency to file an appeal in the Supreme court.
Trials in the 2008 Malegaon blast case and 2012 Sheena Bora murder continued. Some prosecution witnesses turned hostile in the Malegaon case where BJP MP Pragya Thakur is a prime accused.
In February 2022, Justice Pushpa Ganediwala, who had faced flak over the interpretation in a few of her judgements of the term ‘sexual assault’ under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSOA), resigned..
Following her problematic judgments delivered in January and February 2021, the Supreme Court collegium had withdrawn its recommendation to appoint her as a permanent HC judge.
In April 2022, the High Court was hearing a plea filed by activist Gautam Navlakha, arrested in the Elgar Parishad `Maoist links' case, seeking that he be put under house arrest instead of being kept in prison owing to his health issues.
The HC was bemused when it learnt that the prison authorities had refused to hand over to him a book by English humour author P G Wodehouse, sent by Navlakha's family.
The High Court, though, rejected Navlakha’s plea for house arrest. The plea was later allowed by the Supreme Court.
In April, Bollywood actor Salman Khan moved the Bombay High Court challenging the summons issued to him by a magistrate’s court on a complaint filed by a journalist over a 2019 dispute. The HC stayed the summons.
In May 2022, the High Court dismissed a `default bail' (bail on technical grounds) petition filed by activists Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, accused in the Elgar Parishad case.
In September, the High Court quashed a case registered against nine persons including Dadra Nagar Haveli Union Territory administrator Praful Khoda Patel for allegedly abetting the suicide of MP Mohan Delkar.
The High Court observed that it was a fit case for preventing "abuse of law" as the grounds stated in the First Information Report were flimsy and sketchy.
On September 19, the High Court rejected a bail plea filed by former Delhi University professor Hany Babu, an accused in the Elgar Parishad case, noting that on the face of it there was substance in the allegations against him.
In September, the HC directed the Mumbai civic body to demolish unauthorised construction at Union minister and BJP leader Narayan Rane's bungalow in Juhu area, noting that it had violated Floor Space Index (FSI) and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.
Anil Ambani got relief from the High Court in the same month when the court directed the Income Tax department not to take any coercive action against the industrialist on a show-cause notice seeking to prosecute him under the Black Money Act.
On October 14, the Nagpur bench of the HC acquitted ex-Delhi University professor G N Saibaba, overturning his conviction in an alleged Maoist links case. The order has been stayed by the Supreme Court on an appeal filed by government agencies.
In October, the Bombay High Court paved the way for Rutuja Latke, candidate of the Shiv Sena (UBT), to submit nomination for the Andheri (East) Assembly bypoll by directing the city civic body to accept her resignation from its service expeditiously.
On November 18, the High Court granted bail to scholar-activist Anand Teltumbde, yet another accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, noting that prima facie there was no evidence to show that he was an active member of the banned terror outfit CPI (Maoist) or had indulged in any terrorist act.
Between July to September, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested 11 people for allegedly killing Amravati-based pharmacist Umesh Kolhe for sharing social media posts backing BJP leader Nupur Sharma's controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammad.
In December, the NIA filed a charge-sheet against the accused, stating that radicalized Islamists of the Tablighi Jamaat were involved in the murder.