The Bombay HC while quashing criminal proceedings against Salman Khan and his bodyguard observed that, “ judicial process need not be a means of harassment merely because the accused is a celebrity”.
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A complaint was filed by journalist Ashok Pandey alleging that while Salman Khan was on his bicycle ride in 2019, he along with his cameraperson tried to film him riding the bicycle after having obtained permission from Salman Khan’s bodyguard Mohd. Nawaz Iqbal Shaikh.
However, while they were filming, Salman Khan and his bodyguard allegedly intimidated them and manhandled them. Hence, they approached the D N Nagar Police Station to file a complaint and when the police there refused to file a complaint, they made a private complaint before the magistrate, seeking a criminal action against Salman Khan and Shaikh.
Last year, in 2022, the Andheri Magistrate presided by Magistrate R R Khan issued a summons based merely on the report submitted by the police stating that the offences under Section 504 of the Indian Penal Code (intentional insult with an intent to provoke breach of peace) and Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code (criminal intimidation) are made out against the accused.
Aggrieved by the summons order, Salman Khan moved to Bombay HC to stay the summons order and quash the proceedings against them. Order of summons was stayed by the Bombay HC on April 5, 2022. Salman Khan submitted that he did not say anything to the complainant during the incident.
Order of the Bombay HC
A detailed order was made available on Tuesday. The Bombay High Court (HC) presided by Justice Bharati H Dangre, in its order, raised concerns regarding the process followed by the Metropolitan Magistrate while issuing the summons. The HC found out that a proper procedure for issuance of summons i.e.; examining the complainant over his statements was not followed by the Magistrate before issuing the summons. The HC went on to note that, the Magistrate, instead of examining the complainant merely relied on the police report and issued summons while framing charges for S.504 and S.506 of the IPC.
The Bombay HC in its order said that Judicial process should not be used as a means of harassment merely because the accused is a celebrity. The machinery of law should not be said in motion to satisfy the personal vendetta of the complainant based on his personal presumption that he was insulted by the cinestar.
The HC notes that proper adherence to the procedure of law must be there, the Metropolitan Magistrate should have followed the procedure properly and should have recorded the statement of the complainant in order to verify his allegations. Only when the Magistrate is satisfied that there is a fit case to proceed after examining the complaint that he should have issued the summons. The Magistrate should not have surpassed the procedure, “it suffers from serious infraction of procedure”, the Court said.
It was observed by the HC in its order that it seems like a fit case where where ‘issuance of process against the applicants i.e.; Salman Khan and Shaikh; and continuations of proceedings in nothing but a short abuse of process.
The Bombay HC added that the machinery was set in motion by the complainant to satisfy his personal vendetta. Hence, while noting that it is appropriate and in line with substantial justice, the HC allowed the applications filed by Salman Khan and his Bodyguard Shaikh and quashed the proceedings and process issued by the lower court, while also stating that continuation of any action against the applicants on these facts would result in grave injustice.