New Delhi: Days after he passed an order paving the way for the arrest of former Union minister P. Chidambaram, now-retired Justice Sunil Gaur has been appointed as the chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (ATPMLA), ThePrint has learnt.
The former Delhi High Court justice is set to take over on 23 September, a day after present ATPMLA chairperson Justice Manmohan Singh retires, a top source in the tribunal told ThePrint.
In his last order on 20 August — two days before he retired from the Delhi HC — Justice Gaur had dismissed Chidambaram’s plea to grant him interim protection from arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the INX Media case.
The 62-year-old judge had described the Congress leader as the “kingpin” in the money laundering case. The lawyers for Chidambaram had alleged that Gaur reproduced a note — forwarded by the CBI in a sealed cover after the arguments closed — verbatim.
Earlier, Gaur had also passed an order clearing the decks for prosecution of top Congress leaders, including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, in the National Herald case.
He had also delivered a verdict in 2018 directing Associated Journals Ltd, the publisher of National Herald, to vacate its offices at ITO in the national capital. The decision was later upheld by a division bench of the HC, but was put on hold by the Supreme Court in April this year. The matter is still pending in the apex court.
Justice Sunil Gaur was elevated to the Delhi High Court in April 2008. He was designated as a permanent judge in April 2012.
In his over-three-decade long legal career, Justice Gaur adjudged several high profile cases. His area of expertise lay in dealing with corruption cases, including the money laundering case against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi that drove a wedge inside the CBI last year.
Earlier this month, the former Delhi HC judge also set aside a trial court order allowing criminal prosecution of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and its then three senior officials for allegedly possessing secret documents pertaining to cabinet meetings on economic matters.
The case related to recovery of four secret documents pertaining to government policies on subjects of interest to Reliance Industries Ltd from the company’s office. It was stated that there was a prima facie case made out against RIL and the officials under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
Prior to his high court tenure, Gaur handled civil and criminal cases in Delhi Higher Judicial Service, including the sensational Shivani Bhatnagar murder trial. He also served as judge-in-charge of Delhi Mediation Centre, Tis Hazari Courts, and Karkardooma Courts, in Delhi.
In February this year, the Modi government had ruled out a cooling-off period for retired judges before their appointment to tribunals or commissions.
The trend of judges taking up post-retirement posts has drawn heavy criticism over the years.
Apart from the chairperson, the other two members of the appellate tribunal are G.C. Mishra and Ananya Ray. Mishra is a former officer at the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice. Ray is an Indian Revenue Service officer who was formerly special secretary to the Government of India and Member Customs, Central Board of Excise and Customs.
This report was updated to correct the day of Sunil Gaur’s retirement.