Saturday, May 26, 2007

Mall pall

This news is very interesting -- I seem to have missed it, being away.

The court-mandated sealing of shops in Delhi has been upsetting many people, not just the affected traders. (I previously posted on it here.) Moreover, there were several murmurs that it was being done at the behest of mall developers who felt threatened by small shops.

Now Mid-Day has published a report alleging that the sons of former Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal (in whose time the sealing orders came) are business partners of "one of the biggest mall builders in the country."

If this is true, at the very least he should have recused himself citing conflict of interest.

Mid-Day has been slapped, predictably, with a contempt of court notice -- in our country, even criticising a judge is contempt, let alone implicitly questioning his motives. But they promise to fight, and interestingly, say they got their information and evidence from a government web site (the official website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs). And on this occasion, they'll surely have the support of politicians, of all hues.

As for the contempt question -- recently Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju has questioned the relevance of contempt laws, while Parliament has recently amended the Contempt of Courts act to permit truth of the allegations as a valid defence. (Link to Abi's post on this.) So if Mid-Day can prove its allegations, it may unleash quite a storm. And if the court uses its powers to quash Mid-Day without refuting the allegations, it may well become an international incident.


Anonymous said...

Just for the record, one of the malls developed by the company was also sealed by Court's order: CTC mall.

Also, it was a division bench and not a single judge bench. Finally, the bench is currently headed by the chief Justice and he isn't too impressed with the government's attempt to save the traders too. So unless everyone was benefiting from it, the theory falls flat.


Rahul Siddharthan said...

That's why I'm being careful not to suggest that Sabharwal personally benefited. I only say that he should have recused himself, if only to quash such rumours. It's a question of propriety -- even if he believed he could be fair when his sons had a big financial stake, he should also be seen to be fair.

Anonymous said...

markandeya katju seems to be a really liberal person........i wish we had more people like him.......