Home Ministry won't write to UK government in Jaya Bachchan harassment case

The ministry turned down a request from the Mumbai police to send a letter rogatory to UK authorities seeking legal assistance against the ‘offending and obscene’ calls the Rajya Sabha MP received last year

Actor-turned-Parliamentarian Jaya Bachchan will now have to wait longer to get justice in a harassment case in which she allegedly received ‘obscene and offending’ phone calls.

Jaya Bachchan had received the allegedly obscene phone call on February 2, 2013, at 6.45 pm. Her son Abhishek received the second call at 7.10 pm, and told the caller he would hear from the cops. File pic
Jaya Bachchan had received the allegedly obscene phone call on February 2, 2013, at 6.45 pm. Her son Abhishek received the second call at 7.10 pm, and told the caller he would hear from the cops. File pic

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has rejected a request from the Mumbai police to write a letter rogatory to the UK government seeking details about the subscriber of the phone number from where the call was logged, because the number on which the Rajya Sabha MP received the call is not registered in her name and could, therefore, weaken the case.

A letter rogatory is a formal request from a court authority to a foreign court seeking judicial assistance in a case. Jaya, in her complaint to the Juhu police in 2013, had said she had received the phone call on her mobile at 6.45 pm on February 2, 2013, from an unknown number starting with +44, the country code for UK. While the caller sought to talk to Jaya, she kept giving evasive answers.

Upon that, the caller used abusive and offense language. She said she again got a second call at 7.10 pm, which was received by her son Abhishek, who questioned the person about his background. The caller identified himself as someone from Hi Blitz magazine and sought an interview with him.

Abhishek talked to the person for some time and then disconnected, saying: “You will hear from the police now.” The family then registered the case with the Juhu police under Section 509 (word, act or gesture to outrage the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.

Investigations
Police Inspector Shailendra Dhiwar had written a rogatory proposal under direction from a local court, demanding legal and other assistance from the UK government in the case (number 40/2013).

The letter, co-drafted by Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) KMM Prasanna, requested help in tracing the subscriber of the number, previous call records and the data of the said number, address and documents provided by the owner to the telecom company. Procedure mandates that the rogatory be forwarded by the MHA to its counterpart in the foreign country.

However, in its reply to the Mumbai police and officers of the Juhu police station, the MHA undersecretary said that the phone on which the call was received belonged to somebody else, and this fact was not made clear in Mumbai police’s proposal to the MHA.

“It has been revealed that the said number was subscribed in the name of one Stany Saldhana of Mumbai, and it is not clear in your proposal for rogatory why Ms Bachchan was using a phone subscribed in the name of somebody else. This could have an impact on the case,” reads the letter dated August 26.

He added that the change should be made immediately and added to a fresh draft rogatory, if any headway has to be made in the case. Sources in the home department said the police will now have to restart the process of rogatory, which will take a long time.

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