Cases against Kasab, Bollywood stars dominate Maharashtra legal scene

Cases against Bollywood personalities Salman Khan, Adnan Sami, Madhur Bhankarkar, Shiney Ahuja and family members of late Rajesh Khanna hogged the limelight during 2012.

Mumbai: Cases against Bollywood personalities Salman Khan, Adnan Sami, Madhur Bhankarkar, Shiney Ahuja and family members of late Rajesh Khanna hogged the limelight during 2012 while hanging of terrorist Ajmal Kasab in a Pune jail marked culmination of the 26/11 trial.

The arrest of political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi drew public attention. The high court came down heavily on police for arresting him on "frivolous grounds" and "without application of mind". The court also granted him bail observing that police had "breached" his "freedom of speech and expression".

In a glittering event this year, the Bombay High Court celebrated the completion of 150 years of its building.

Salman, an accused in a 2002 hit-and-run case, received a setback when an RTI activist moved a court in December alleging that he had delayed the trial by five years deliberately by colluding with police. The court asked the actor to answer the charges of giving false information and producing wrong witnesses.

In another development, Pakistani singer Sami got relief when the Bombay High Court in June granted divorce to him and UAE citizen Sabah Galadari. Adnan had married Sabah in 2001, divorced her in 2004 and remarried her in 2007.

Their relation, however, soured again and Sabah moved a family court for divorce in 2009. She also filed a case under Domestic Violence Act against Adnan.

Eight years after fighting a legal battle, filmmaker Bhandarkar got an upper hand for the first time when the Supreme Court, in November, quashed the ongoing criminal proceedings against him on allegations of rape levelled by actress Preeti Jain.

Another case which evinced public interest was that of actor Shiney Ahuja who was convicted on allegations of raping his maid servant. He moved the Bombay High Court urging that his appeal be expedited as pendency of "frivolous conviction" was tormenting him and he wanted to start life afresh. On November 28, the court expedited his appeal.

After the death of Rajesh Khanna in July, Anita Advani, claiming to be his live-in-partner, filed a case under Domestic Violence Act against the actor`s family saying she was driven away from Khanna`s bungalow Ashirwad.

A local court issued summons to Khanna`s wife Dimple Kapadia, daughters Twinkle and Rinki and actor son-in-law Akshay Kumar. Aggrieved, the family members of Khanna moved the high court which stayed the proceedings against them.

One more case which stole the limelight was the hanging of Kasab, the sole surviving terrorist in 26/11 terror attack, at Yerawada Jail in Pune on November 21. Kasab had been lodged in Arthur Jail Road in Mumbai ever since he was arrested in 2008. He was buried in the jail itself.

25-year-old Kasab was convicted and given capital punishment by the trial court in May, 2010 which was upheld by the Bombay High Court in February last year. The Supreme Court later upheld the sentence on August 29.

In another development, crusader against corruption Anna Hazare heaved a sigh of relief when the Bombay High Court dismissed a PIL seeking a probe into his trust. The PIL claimed that Hind Swaraj Trust had not submitted audit reports from the year 2005 to 2007 before the Charity Commissioner. It also alleged that trustees including Hazare, were indulging in malpractices and siphoning of funds.

In the multi-crore Adarsh housing scam, CBI filed a 10,000-page charge sheet in July against 13 people including former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. The scam had earlier fuelled a political storm in Maharashtra leading to the resignation of Chavan as the Chief Minister.

Chavan moved the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of cheating and corruption case filed against him by CBI. The Congress leader was accused of granting some approvals to the housing society in upscale Colaba as quid-pro-quo for allotment of three flats to his kin.

Union Minister and former Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde put the blame on Vilasrao Deshmukh saying the decision to allot government land and grant of additional FSI to the society was taken during the tenure of Deskhmukh.

On the other hand, Deshmukh, in his deposition, shrugged off responsibility for the scam and chose to put the onus on bureaucrats and other departments. However, on August 14, he died of prolonged illness at a Chennai hospital.

After two months, Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, main accused in Adarsh Society scam and chief promoter of the controversial society, also passed away following cardiac arrest.

Filmmaker Subhash Ghai got a jolt when the high court in February ordered him to surrender the 20-acre land in suburban Goregaon housing his film and television institute Whistling Woods to the Maharashtra government. In April, the Supreme Court upheld the high court order.

In another development, Congress leader Kripashankar Singh suffered a setback as police, in February, registered an FIR against him under an anti-corruption law in a disproportionate assets case, after the high court had directed it to prosecute him for "criminal misconduct".

One of the criminal cases which dominated the legal scene was that of confirmation of death penalty awarded to two persons for raping and killing a 22-year-old young BPO employee. The Bombay High Court, in September, upheld the death sentence saying that the crime had left a deep impact on the society and on women travelling alone.

In another development, the high court, in November, dismissed a PIL challenging the allotment of land to two societies Nyay Sagar and Siddhant reserved for housing judges of the higher judiciary.

In a decision which may have an impact on the Shiv Sena`s policy, the high court told the party, which holds its annual Dussehra rally since last 40 years at Shivaji Park, that from next year onwards it should look for a new ground.

In March, the high court granted bail to actor John Abraham in a rash driving case and even suspended his 15-day jail sentence awarded to him by a lower court.

Another actor and filmmaker, who got relief from the high court, was Pooja Bhatt in a seven-year-old case relating to obscenity. The court in December quashed an order of a lower court to initiate criminal proceedings against her for alleged obscenity over the poster of her film `Rog`.

The Mafatlal family dispute came in public view with the high court in November directing police not to file charge sheet against family matriarch Madhuri and son Ajay, pending their petition seeking to quash a dowry harassment case registered by estranged daughter-in-law Sheetal.

In another development, the cash-strapped Deccan Chargers remained terminated from the IPL after the high court set aside a status quo order passed by an arbitrator on cessation of its membership in the league.