A Delhi court slapped Rs 20,000 as costs on Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty for his failure to appear before it and warned him that it would issue a warrant against him if he did not mark his presence next week in a defamation suit filed against him by a stuntman.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Savitri allowed the plea of 52-year-old Shetty for exemption from personal appearance and gave him a last opportunity to appear before her without any fail on next date of hearing.
“A cost of Rs 20,000 is imposed on Suniel Shetty for his failure to appear in the court. He is directed to appear on the next date without any fail,” the CMM said, adding that it will not consider any request next time.
In the morning, Shetty’s counsel submitted before the court that he will appear before it after the lunch recess but when the matter was taken up for hearing later in the day, the court was told that the actor would not be able to appear as he had fallen ill due to food poisoning and returned from Pune airport yesterday.
The exemption plea was opposed by advocate Ravinder Kumar, appearing for complainant Puran Chauhan, saying the actor has been delaying the case and his request should not be allowed.
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The court had earlier also imposed a “cost of Rs 20,000” on Shetty while allowing his exemption plea considering his “status”.
However, Shetty’s advocate Vinit Dhanda, against whom the court had earlier imposed a “cost of Rs 2,000” for failing to appear before it, was present during the day’s hearing.
The court had fixed today for hearing of the bail pleas of the actor and his lawyer and also for “framing of notice”.
It was hearing the defamation case filed in October 2013 against Shetty and Dhanda by Delhi-based stuntman Chauhan, who has alleged that they had made false statements before the Delhi High Court and the media that he had beaten one of them and an FIR was lodged against him.
Chauhan claimed that with the help of his false statement in 2011, Shetty had managed to obtain stay from the high court on summons issued for him to appear in a case in which the actor was accused of not paying him nearly Rs one crore.
According to Chauhan, Shetty had told the high court that on March 2011, his lawyer was beaten by the complainant inside a washroom in the court building.
According to the complainant, Shetty had also told media persons outside the court that an FIR had been lodged against Chauhan and that he would be arrested soon. Chauhan has said no such beating incident had taken place.
He has said that through an RTI reply from the police headquarters, he came to know that no FIR was lodged against him and no PCR call was made at the time of the alleged incident.
He has said he was defamed by Shetty and Dhanda as several newspapers had carried reports that he had beaten up the lawyer.
Earlier, the court had said it appeared that allegations made by Shetty and Dhanda against Chauhan that he had beaten up the lawyer on March 22, 2011 amounts to defamation and prima facie case was made out against the duo.
The high court had earlier issued summons to Shetty and his film producing firm, Pop Corn Entertainment Pvt Ltd, on the suit of Chauhan accusing the actor of not paying him nearly Rs 1 crore.
In his suit for recovery of Rs 97,98,630 from Shetty’s company, Chauhan had accused the actor of not paying him any money for availing his services during shooting of the movie “The Little God Father” in 2007.
As per the suit, Shetty’s company had decided to make a documentary film to highlight the plight of victims of the Mumbai serial train blasts on July 11, 2006, and the film director had approached Chauhan to be a part of the project.
Chauhan had said he was also promised a handsome amount for his services and alleged that Shetty failed to pay him according to the offer letter.
In his recovery suit, he had also claimed that due to his efforts, the Western and Central Railways had exempted Shetty from paying fees worth Rs 3,94,00,000 for using various railways’ sites in Mumbai.
But, Shetty instead of him giving him his dues, had gone on to threaten him with dire consequences for demanding the same, Chauhan had alleged.