New Delhi: For Delhi high court, 2015 was a productive year as it handled a variety of cases and passed judgments with wide-ranging consequences for the country. Among the cases the court handled were the National Herald misappropriation case, air pollution cases, the political tussle between centre and state and release of a juvenile convict in the December 2012 gang rape and murder.

We take a look at the Top 10 cases of the year:

1. National Herald misappropriation case

The case involved allegations of cheating, fraud, misappropriation of funds and breach of trust against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, party general secretary Oscar Fernandes, journalist Suman Dubey, technocrat Sam Pitroda and party treasurer Motilal Vora, in a bid to take control of the National Herald newspaper.

On a complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, summons were issued to the leaders in June 2014, who thereon sought quashing of the summons before the Delhi high court. It was alleged that the party loaned 90 crore to Associated Journals and on 28 December 2010 it assigned this debt to Young Indian, a charitable company, for 50 lakh.

The case was argued extensively and saw senior advocates like Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harin Raval pitted against Swamy, who argued the case in person. In one of such instance, the judgment was delivered on 8 December. The Congress suffered a political jolt as the judgment cleared the way for the trial of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, among others, and asked them to be personally present in the Patiala House court. On 19 December, they were able to secure bail and now have to appear in court on 20 February.

2.Release of juvenile convict in gang rape case

The question of release of the now 20-year old juvenile convict in the 16 December 2012 gang rape and murder was settled by the Delhi high court which allowed him to walk free after having spent 3 years in a correctional home as envisaged under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. The minor was one of six people convicted of raping and fatally assaulting a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a moving bus in Delhi.

The release was opposed by Swamy who contended that the juvenile was in close proximity with a suspected militant in the juvenile home and could not be absorbed back into society. The Supreme Court also refused to stay the convict’s release on a petition by the Delhi Commission for Women. The convict is currently under the care and protection of an NGO.

3. Hoffman-La Roche and Cipla’s drug patent case

The dispute between drug giants, Hoffman-La Roche and Cipla over a patent was settled by Delhi high court which held that Cipla was infringing on Hoffman’s patent on lung cancer drug, Erlotinib Hydrochloride, which it sold under the name Tarceva. This verdict came in response to an appeal by Hoffman against the single judge’s order which did not hold Cipla in infringement of the patent. Although infringement by Cipla was noted under the judgment, no injunction was issued against the Indian drug company as Roche’s patent is set to expire in March 2016.

To make good the loss suffered by Roche due to use of its patent, Cipla would be required to submit a statement of profits from the sale of its medicine, Erlocip.

4. Enforcement of a diesel ban on app-based taxi providers like Ola and Uber

The court passed an order on 14 October, whereby all app-based taxi services will be required to switch their fleets to CNG by 1 March 2016. The proceedings, which began with Ola required to abide by the order, were extended to cover all app-based taxi providers in the national capital region like Uber, TaxiForSure, Meru, etc. Taxi hailing companies like Ola and Uber were allowed to carry out the transition in a phased manner.

Earlier, on 29 July, the high court had upheld the Delhi government’s 1 January order by which all app-based cab services which did not conform to the modified Radio Taxi Scheme were to be banned from operating in the city.

5. Delhi government’s audit of discoms

Holding that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) audit carried out in 2014 to establish allegations of inflated electricity bills by private power distribution companies would have no bearing, the pleas of three private power distribution companies, namely BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd, BSES Yamuna Power Ltd and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd, which had challenged the Delhi government’s decision to carry out the audit, was accepted on 30 October. The discoms challenged the 7 January order by the Delhi government which asked the CAG to audit discoms, contending that the office of the auditor was not empowered to scrutinize the accounts of private firms under Section 20 of the CAG Act.

6.Recognition of rights of the third gender

In a unique case, the court allowed a 19-year-old transgender non-resident Indian to return to the US after he was forcibly brought to India by his parents in the hope of “reforming" him. The landmark judgment recognized that gender identity and sexual orientation were fundamental to the right of self-determination, dignity and freedom.

7. Centre-state row over distribution of powers

The year saw the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government approaching Delhi high court over distribution of powers between them. The question arose due to a notification by the ministry of home affairs on 21 May which held that in matters of public order, police and services, the Lt Governor could take decisions independent of the state government. A number of cases stemming from this notification accumulated in the court over the year and have been covered by Mint. With senior advocate, Dayan Krishnan stressing the need for the Lt Governor to consult with the state cabinet before taking a decision, the arguments in the matter will continue into the New Year and have far-reaching effects once a verdict is passed.

8.The office of Attorney General of India being subject to RTI

A plea brought by Right to Information (RTI) activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal held that the office of attorney general of India should be covered under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005. “Attorney general of India is not limited to merely acting as a lawyer for the government of India...the attorney general of India is a constitutional functionary and is also obliged to discharge the functions under the Constitution as well as under any other law," the judgment by Justice Vibhu Bakhru said. This decision is not final as it is currently under challenge and will be heard by a division bench on 9 February.

9.ONGC-RIL gas dispute

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) dragged Reliance Industries Ltd to court in May 2014, alleging that it had drawn natural gas worth crores from its hydrocarbon block in the Krishna-Godavari basin. An independent agency, DeGolyer and MacNaughten, was appointed to examine the allegations, with the court directing that the report be submitted to the government and action taken within six months. The report is awaited.

10. Jindal coal block cancellation

On 20 March, the government cancelled the allocation of two coal blocks, namely, Gare Palma IV/2 and IV/3 and Tara block in Chhattisgarh to Jindal Power Ltd, rejecting its closing bids of 108 and 126 per tonne, respectively. Subsequently, these blocks were placed under the designated authority of Coal India Ltd on 27 March under a court order till the issue was decided. Jindal Power had approached the court challenging the cancellation order of the government, calling it “arbitrary and unfair" while seeking an explanation for it. A judgment in the case has been reserved.