Judgements giving a body blow to the government in the high-profile Vodafone tax case and scrapping of 2G spectrum licences hogged the limelight in the Supreme Court which in 2012 also brought the curtains down on the 26/11 case by sending the lone surviving Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab to the gallows.
The 25-year-old Kasab’s nearly four-year-long legal battle for life ended on August 29 and 84 days after the verdict he was hanged on November 21 for the crime of “unprecedented enormity” planned in Pakistan.
While the day-to-day hearing in Kasab’s case was being watched, the then Army Chief V K Singh in an unprecedented move dragged the government to the top court where he lost his battle on the age row, forcing him to withdraw his petition.
The apex court told Gen Singh that he cannot resile on his commitment that he would abide by the government decision to treat his date of birth as May 10, 1950 and rejected the contention of “prejudice” and “perversity”.
However, before the age row, the year began on a bad note for the government which lost its tax case of Rs 11,000 crore against telecom major Vodafone and the apex court scrapping the 2G spectrum licences allocated during the tenure of A Raja as telecom minister.
The government’s woes did not end here as its pleas for review of the Vodafone and 2G verdict fell flat.
After failing to get any relief in the spectrum case, the Centre came out with Presidential Reference to overcome the direction in the 2G verdict that all natural resources have to be alloted through the route of “auction”.
There was some solace for the government when on September 29, a five-judge constitution bench came out with the opinion that auction is not the only method for allocating natural resources to private companies and made it clear that its 2G verdict was confined to spectrum and not to other resources.
The 2G spectrum case also gave some anxious moments to Union Minister P Chidambaram after Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy dragged him for his alleged involvement in the multi-crore rupee scam. Chidambaram finally got a clean chit from the apex court which also rejected the review petition against its verdict.
The scam in the coal block allocation and government’s decision allowing FDI in retail were also dragged to the apex court which, though refused to interfere with the policy matter, put some searching questions to government on FDI and asked it to take corrective steps to remove legal hassles.
However, the petitions alleging large scale irregularities in coal block allocation are pending in the apex court.
Amid these developments, the UPA-II government survived a scare when the Supreme Court by a majority verdict of 3 to 2 dismissed the petition filed by former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma challenging the election of senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee as the President.
However, there was another reason for the Rashtrapati Bhavan to worry as President’s Secretary Omita Paul, who was advisor to Mukherjee when he was the Finance Minister, was impleaded as respondent in the petition seeking CBI probe into the appointment of U K Sinha as the chairman of SEBI.
Market regulator SEBI was making news throughout the year by acting tough against the Sahara Group of companies which received a major setback when the Supreme Court directed two of its companies to refund around Rs 24,000 crore to their investors in three months with 15 per cent annual interest.