January,8,2016: The judicial first class magistrate court on Friday issued a non bailable warrant against Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the case of complaint of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus, originally filed in 2013.
The magistrate, taking into account that the accused Mahendra Singh Dhoni had not presented himself before the court inspite of summons being served on him, issued a non bailable warrant against the cricketer, who is in Australia now.
However, the other accused in the case, Business Today magazine Editor Chaitanya Kalbag, is yet to be served the summons, although the court had issued summons to both in October 2015.
On October 5, 2015, the judicial first class court at Anantapur, numbering a petition regarding the case, had issued orders for notices to be served on Mahendra Singh Dhoni and another accused in the case on a complaint that was filed in April 2013.
Originally, the case was filed by a Viswa Hindu Parishad activist Y. Shyam Sunder of Anantapur alleging that M.S. Dhoni and the editor of Business Today for having ‘hurt his religious sentiments when he witnessed the cover page of the magazine’ in which Dhoni was depicted as Lord Vishnu with each of his several hands holding products which he endorsed including a sports shoe.
The petitioner had urged the court to punish the accused under section 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code besides section 295A, 298 and 499 of the Indian Penal Code.
While the petition was admitted by the court then, it was later dismissed for default due to absence of the complainant.
Subsequently, the petitioner filed a revision petition seeking restoration of the petition, which the court accepted the same issued summons to which neither of the accused responded leading to the court issuing a bailable warrant.
The same was contested in the court by the accused’s lawyer and the summons recalled in 2014, post which the court directed the petitioner to get prior sanction of the district collector or the appropriate state or central government authorities for being able to start criminal proceedings under section 295 A of the IPC, which attract, if found guilty, three years of imprisonment or fine or both.
However, to start proceedings under the second 295A, a prior sanction of appropriate authorities is required by law under section 196 (1) of the criminal procedure code.
While the District Collector was petitioned, the same was forwarded to the State Chief Secretary and subsequently sent to the Central Government to give necessary sanction.
With no sanction or rejection being communicated to the complainant, the complainant contested citing suitable precedents set by the Gujarat High court. He prayed to the Anantapur judicial first class magistrate court to direct the numbering of the case and issue of notices, as sanction of proceedings is deemed if no communication was sent to the complainant in a reasonable time frame.
While Dhoni is expected to present himself at the court on February 25, it is unlikely that Dhoni might actually turn up as he can approach the High Court or the Supreme Court asking them to direct the lower court to quash the petitions or make use of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Rajneesh Chopra Advocate said that the non-bailable warrant issued against the captain of India’s limited-overs’ teams is “erroneous”.
“Mahendra Singh Dhoni has utmost respect for the judiciary but the fact of the matter is that he has personally never received any summons with respect to the present case; therefore the order appears to be erroneous,” Chopra said in a statement issued by Rhiti Sports, the company that manages Dhoni.
“Even as such, proceedings in a similar matter pending before the Hon’ble District Court of Bengaluru, Karnataka, has already been stayed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. In this matter, accordingly we will approach the courts and seek appropriate directions thereto,” he added.
The lawyers representing Dhoni could petition the High Court seeking quashing of the Non Bailable warrants issued by the lower court under section 482 of the criminal procedure code.
In the same vein, Dhoni’s lawyers could petition the judicial first class magistrate court to repeal the NBW’s issued under section 70 (2) of CrPC.