The HC Delhi will decide on the key court chairman issue
Delhi’s high court said on Wednesday that it will examine the matter involving a non-judicial member currently presiding as acting president of the country’s only crucial appeals court that deals with seizure and freezing of property under the Law of money laundering, smugglers and foreigners. Trade Handlers Act (SAFEMA) and Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS).
Based on a report from the Hindustan Times last week, the authority of the current acting president, GC Mishra, who is from Indian Legal Services and is the sole member of the court at this time, was challenged by attorney Vijay Aggarwal on behalf of Echanda Urja Pvt. Ltd (EUPL), a company linked to Deepak Kochhar’s husband, former managing director of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar. Aggarwal argued that Mishra, being a non-judicial member, cannot decide cases in the absence of a regular president, as only a judicial member can deal with the legal aspects.
HT reported on November 27 that the court was beheaded for the past 14 months, seriously affecting its operation and that Mishra, as acting president, had mostly deferred appeals filed by individuals and commercial entities challenging the embargo of their properties by the Directorate of Execution (ED) or other authorities.
ED approached the court last week challenging a November 6 order from its own adjudicating authority under the PMLA to release Rs 78 crore worth of attachments belonging to Kochhars. Kochhars has requested a stay of ED’s appeal hearing until the matter is heard from a sitting president.
Judge Navin Chawla, however, refused to stay the proceedings on ED’s appeal and accepted the arguments of Additional Attorney General (ASG) SV Raju, who said that a stay would create chaos in the various appeals being heard in the court.
ASG Raju argued that if a stay was granted, other parties would also seek a stay in the cases that are being examined in court.
After hearing lengthy arguments, the court said that it did not consider it appropriate to intercept the proceedings (ED appeal) pending in court. The court also issued a notice to the Department of Education for its response and posted the matter for an additional hearing at February 2021.