Justice Waziri pointed out to the respondents that three months have elapsed since the last order was passed in October 2018 and such delaying tactics can’t be allowed.
Irked over the delaying tactics by the 2G Scam accused persons including Shahid Balwa, Delhi High Court ordered the erring persons and companies to plant 16300 trees at Delhi’s South Ridge forest area. After giving many occasions to the persons and companies involved in the telecom scam, on Thursday Justice Najmi Waziri was irked to find that Shahid Balwa, his associate Rajeev Agarwal, Former Telecom Minister A. Raja’s private secretary RK Chandolia and Balwa’s companies had not filed replies to the appeals filed by CBI and ED. The Court asked the erring persons and representatives of the companies to appear before forest official on February 15 to start planting trees and posted the next hearing to March 26.
“The plants shall be of deciduous indigenous variety and they shall be of nursery age of three and a half years old and have a height of at least six feet. They will ensure the maintenance of trees till the rainy season,” the court said.
Granting one last opportunity to file responses on March 26 to Balwa, director of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Private Limited Rajiv Agarwal, and firms — Dynamic Realty, D B Realty Limited and Nihar Constructions Private Limited — in the ED’s case, he had asked them to plant 3,000 trees each here.
Similarly, the high court allowed the plea of Raja’s erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, director of Kusegaon Fruits Asif Balwa and Agarwal to grant the last opportunity to file responses in the CBI’s case.
The court also asked Chandolia to plant 300 trees and Asif Balwa and Agarwal will plant 500 trees (in addition to his 3,000) each in South Delhi.
Justice Waziri pointed out to the respondents that three months have elapsed since the last order was passed in October 2018 and such delaying tactics can’t be allowed. Balwa, Agarwal and the three companies along with others including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi were acquitted by the trial court in the ED’s money laundering case.
All of them have been asked to report to the Deputy Conservator of Forests (South) on February 15 for this purpose. The companies will be represented through their authorized signatory. “The plants shall be of deciduous indigenous variety and they shall be of nursery age of three and a half years old and have a height of at least six feet. They will ensure the maintenance of trees till the rainy season,” the court said.
The judge said that till now he has asked litigants in various cases to plant 39,000 trees and this way, soon the forest area would revive. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing CBI and ED, said this is the best way of imposing a cost.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, appearing for Balwas and others, who have been asked to do the plantation drive, said they welcome the court order. “It is innovative and in right earnest. We do volunteer for the same,” Aggarwal said.
2G Special Court headed by Judge OP Saini had acquitted all the accused persons on December 27, 2017. Challenging the controversial judgment of the trial court, CBI and ED appealed to Delhi High Court on March 2018. The HC issued a notice to all the acquitted persons and firms and fixed arguments for June. Many times the accused persons sought time to reply and in October, the High Court said that they would not give more time and asked the acquitted persons to file the reply on February 7, observing a fast track hearing in the 2G appeal cases.
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