Plea Seeking Damages Against Illegal Forfeiture Of Property During 1975 Emergency: Delhi High Court Adjourns The Matter To April 25

  • Sakshi Shukla & Pankaj Bajpai
  • 02:12 PM, 08 Apr 2021

The Delhi High Court comprising Ld Joint Registrar Twinkle Wadhwa has adjourned the matter of Rajiv Sarin v. Directorate of Estates, by which plaintiffs have approached the High Court of Delhi seeking relief against the property which was subject to forfeiture by defendant 3, under the provisions of Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1976 by order dated 05.08.1998 for April 25, 2021. 

The property in question is situated at Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi.

In the order dated 28.07.2020, directions were given as to payment of arrears of rent at Rs 20500 per month for the period of possession from 01.05.1999 to 02.07.2020.

The plea has been moved by legal heirs of Ms. Vera Sarin (on behalf of Advocate Sidhant Marwah), who had earlier approached the Top Court seeking to declare the emergency proclaimed in 1975 as “wholly unconstitutional”.

“The present suit is a part of a series of litigation seeking vindication of legitimate rights of the Plaintiffs necessitated on account of gross abuse of power committed by the Defendants which are all governmental entities”, the plaintiffs submit.

Between 1974 and 1976, raids were conducted in the business premises of Late Mr HK Sarin, father of the plaintiffs and proceedings were initiated under the Customs Act, 1962.

The Government of NCT of Delhi on 12.07.1975 issued a preventive detention order under the provisions of the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 (COFEPOSA), which was factually never served upon Mr Sarin.

Subsequently, Defendant 3 (competent authority under SAFEMA Act) issued a Show Cause Notice under Section 6 of SAFEMA based on the aforesaid order passed under COFEPOSA on 29.04.1980 calling upon Late Mr. Sarin to explain the sources of income, earnings and means by which various assets including the Property were acquired.

Various replies were filed, resultantly, properties stood forfeited by order dated 05.08.1998.

Pursuant to this, Defendant 1 stopped paying rents with respect to the property.

In 2001, Appellate Authority under SAFEMA dismissed the appeal against the order of forfeiture dated 05.08.1008. 

A writ petition bearing number WP (Crl.) No. 1606 of 2008 was preferred by the plaintiffs, which was adjudicated in their favour by a Division of the present Court, by order dated 01.12.2014, setting aside the proceedings under SAFEMA as being a nullity in view of the revocation of order of preventive detention under COFEPOSA.

In 2016, proceedings were formally closed under SAFEMA pursuant to the aforementioned judgment.

From 2016-19, plaintiffs preferred several representations before Defendant 1 for release of properties in view of the 2014 judgment, but got no effective response. 

Plaintiffs being aggrieved, inter alia, by illegal occupation and retention of the Property by the defendants instituted yet another Writ Petition bearing number WP (C) No. 10395 of 2019.

The property was finally restored by order dated 12.06. 2020

Case Title: Rajiv Sarin v. Directorate of Estates and Ors