The Kerala High Court today quashed a non-bailable warrant issued in 2012 by a consumer forum for the arrest of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in a case of alleged non-payment of money deposited by an investor in the year 1986 with the Express (Malayalam)(P) Ltd of which he was the chairman.

Incidentally, the judgment says that Swamy, the Petitioner " also a lawyer by profession". Even in the cause title of the Judgment, Dr. Swamy is referred to as an Advocate.

Justice P V Kunhikrishnan also quashed all proceedings in connection with enforcement of the consumer forum's order of April 24, 1996 holding Swamy liable to pay the investor's money.

The High Court's order came on Swamy's plea challenging enforcement of the consumer forum's 1996 order and the warrant for his arrest.

In his plea, the BJP leader had contended that he was never heard by the forum and no notice was served upon in connection with the proceedings and therefore, its order cannot be enforced upon him.

He had also contended that while the forum's order said a lawyer had represented him, there was no vakalath executed by him available with the forum according to the response he received under the Right to Information Act.

He had further said that the publication was wound up in 2003 on orders of the high court, much before the warrants were issued and therefore, the forum's orders were unsustainable.

Besides that, the plea for winding up of the publication was filed in the high court by a bank in 1994, before the plea was filed in the consumer forum in 1996, he had argued.

Therefore, the consumer proceedings could not have been initiated without permission of the court where the liquidation proceedings were underway, he had said.

The Counsel appearing for the investor had contended that the plea was not maintainable as there was a provision for appeal before the state commission under the consumer disputes law.

The High Court, however, rejected the contentions of the investor and said that the plea was filed and admitted in 2012 and now it was too late for the question of maintainability to be considered.

It further said that the perusal of the forum's proceedings indicated that it was aware of the liquidation proceedings and therefore, in such circumstances, it erred in initiating the proceedings against Swamy.

"This court need not disbelieve the version of the petitioner that he has not received any notice from the consumer disputes redressal forum (CDRF).", the Court says.

The Court said that Swamy was definite that he never engaged a lawyer and as per the reply received under the Right to Information Act it was clear that a vakalatnama alleged to be executed by him was not available with CDRF.

If that is the case, it can be presumed that Ext P3 (1996) order is passed without giving an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner and it is an order passed behind his back, the Judgment states.

"Based on Ext P3, the warrant is issued against the petitioner, the same is unsustainable. Therefore, the contentions of the petitioner are to be accepted and this writ petition is to be allowed," the Court said.

Click here to read/download Judgment

With PTI inputs