HC kills 10 birds with one stone

Disposes of 10 cases, including that of Madhur Bhandarkar against Pretti Jaiin, Satyam's shareholders against PricewaterhouseCoopers and Dhavid Dhawan-Desi Boyz case, with a common 187-page judgment dealing with jurisdiction

If director Madhur Bhandarkar thought approaching the High Court to squash the rape allegations filed by starlet Pretti Jaiin was a good idea, then yesterday the High Court dealt him a serious blow as it quashed his application. The Bombay High Court through a common 187-page judgment disposed off 10 high-profile cases including that of Bhandarkar, PricewaterhouseCoopers case against Satyam Limited and David Dhawan-the Desi Boyz case yesterday.

No relief: High Court quashed Madhur Bhandarkar's application
questioning the process issued against him by the Andheri Metropolitan
Magistrate for the alleged rape of starlet Pretti Jaiin. File pic

Justice RC Chavan while pronouncing the judgment said the key issue common to all cases was that of jurisdiction, as to whether the applicants could approach the High Court without having approached the lower Sessions Court. 

The cases
Shareholders of Satyam had approached the High Court alleging that PricewaterhouseCoopers had misled them into believing in the financial health of the company, in collusion with Ramalinga Raju. In the case of Madhur Bhandarkar, the director had approached the High Court questioning the process issued against him by the Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate for rape and criminal intimidation and the third case dealt with the judgment of criminal breach of trust and cheating filed by Shyam Devkatta, who claimed to have emailed the script of the film Desi Boyz to Dhawan, who then made it a feature film. In that case, the producers and director of the film had also questioned the issuing of process against them.

The judgment rejected all three of the above applications, and six others. It observed that the wide powers given under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure code which is to be used very sparingly, was in fact being gravely misused to delay justice, though the original purpose of the section was to ensure justice was done. Justice Chavan lamenting the backlog it causes observed, "There is a real fear of the system, at least in Mumbai, being washed away by tsunami waves of applications under this section."

He observed, "Inherent powers of the court are not ousted as a rule when an alternate remedy exists and existence of alternate remedy is more a matter of self restraint. But they can be invoked only when there is a glaring abuse of process of Court."

The court also issued new guidelines to ensure justice is met. The court suggested that scamsters who dupe investors needed to be treated sternly. It also suggested that while granting or refusing bail courts need to see whether the person can potentially tamper with evidence. A timetable must be drawn up for speedy disposal of trials, and video conferencing must be used more generously.

What Section 482 says
Section 482 of the CrPC which gives wide powers to the High Court reads, "Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice."

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