New Delhi, Feb 7 (IANS) In an innovative punishment, the Delhi High Court on Thursday directed Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa and four others to plant 15,000 trees in the Delhi South Ridge, observing that they have failed to file a response on an ED appeal challenging their acquittal in the 2G case.
Justice Najmi Waziri, while granting a final opportunity to Balwa, businessman Rajiv Agarwal and three companies — Dynamix Reality Pvt Ltd, DB Reality and Nihar Constructions — asked them to plant 3,000 trees each in Delhi’s South Ridge forest area.
The court has listed the matter for further hearing on March 26. The court also directed the parties to submit photographs of their plantation drive on the next date of hearing.
It has also asked former Union Telecom Minister A. Raja’s close aide R.K. Chandolia to plant 300 trees for not filing a reply to a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) appeal challenging his acquittal.
The directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal were asked to plant 500 saplings each.
The court has asked them to appear before the Deputy Conservator of Forests on February 15, which will allocate land for the plantations.
The court said that the trees should be of indigenous variety and must be taken care of till the monsoon.
It added that the trees are to be of nursery age three-and-a-half years and six feet in height.
The court was hearing an appeal challenging the acquittal of former Telecom Minister A. Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others in the 2G spectrum allocation case.
A special court here had acquitted Raja, Kanimozhi and the others on December 21, 2017.
The others acquitted included DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, Shahid Balwa, Asif Balwa, Vinod Goenka, Rajiv Aggarwal, film producer Karim Morani, P. Amirtham and Sharad Kumar.
The probe agencies approached the court in March 2018 challenging the trial court order.
In the last hearing on October 9, 2018, the Delhi High Court had granted the persons the last opportunity to file their responses on the agencies’ plea, warning that no more delays would be allowed.
However, when Balwa and the others failed to file a reply despite repeated reminders, it asked them to carry out a plantation drive instead of imposing monetary costs on them.
Mostly in such circumstances, the court imposes costs on the litigants.
But this time, stressing on the need to revive 48,000 acres of the Delhi ridge, it said it has passed similar orders for planting of thousands of saplings since Thursday morning.
The judge said that the forest must be revived as it can help in reducing pollutants in the environment.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta welcomed the decision and said that it was the best way to impose costs.
However, he informed the court that the survival rate of saplings planted is low as they die due to lack of care.
The court said that the persons will have to take proper care of the plants till the monsoon.