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HC judge recuses himself from hearing lobbyist Talwar's plea

HC judge recuses himself from hearing lobbyist Talwars plea

New Delhi: A Delhi High Court judge on Monday recused himself from hearing alleged lobbyist Deepak Talwar's plea challenging his detention by Indian agencies after he was deported from the UAE.

Justice Siddharth Mridul, who was heading the bench, also comprising Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, recused from hearing the matter without assigning any reason.

"The matter will be heard by a bench in which one of us, Justice Siddharth Mridul is not a member," he said, adding "less said the better".

The matter would be listed for hearing before another bench on March 14.

In his habeas corpus plea, Talwar has claimed that his arrest and custody from January 30 onwards was illegal detention. He has alleged that his fundamental rights were violated by the authorities.

A habeas corpus petition is a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or in court, especially to secure his release, unless lawful grounds are shown for his detention. The bench had earlier sought the response of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in which the agency had said that persons involved in large-scale money laundering and serious financial frauds have made it a practice to challenge various provisions of the PMLA, including the agency's power to arrest.

The ED had contended that a subterfuge was craftily designed by the "unscrupulous litigants" to bypass the exercise of filing a regular bail plea before the court concerned by directly seeking a habeas corpus writ or bail or anticipatory bail under the garb of challenging the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

It had alleged that Talwar, who was in judicial custody, acted as a middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines, causing loss to national carrier Air India.

The ED had said Talwar was arrested by its competent officers under the PMLA and he was in custody pursuant to a valid remand order passed by a competent court, the

jurisdiction of which was not in question, and that the habeas corpus writ was "not maintainable".

Talwar has claimed in his plea that when he was in Dubai, a travel ban was imposed on him by a court there in a commercial dispute, due to which he could not return to India despite repeated requests.

His counsel had earlier contended before the court that the government of India had "abducted" Talwar, adding that he was summoned to appear on February 4, but was picked up and not extradited.

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