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HC refuses to quash FIR against Mumbai-based producer booked for allegedly raping actress

The complainant woman had alleged that in July, 2016, Saha had called her at a hotel on Juhu Tara Road under the pretext of giving her a role and sexually assaulted her. Thereafter, he continued a physical relationship with her on the false promise of marriage.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: February 27, 2021 10:52:38 pm
Bombay High Court, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan great grandson, Zarin Ghani Walsh, Granddaughter of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, indian express newsA division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale on February 25 passed an order on a writ plea filed by Saha seeking to quash the FIR against him. (File)

The Bombay High Court recently refused to quash an FIR registered in July, 2020 by Santacruz Police station against film producer and director Sudeep Kumar Saha for allegedly raping and blackmailing a Hindi and Bhojpuri actress and for filming her intimate moments with another producer, using a spy camera. The court, in December, 2020 had rejected Saha’s pre-arrest bail plea.

A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale on February 25 passed an order on a writ plea filed by Saha seeking to quash the FIR against him.

The complainant woman had alleged that in July, 2016, Saha had called her at a hotel on Juhu Tara Road under the pretext of giving her a role and sexually assaulted her. Thereafter, he continued a physical relationship with her on the false promise of marriage.

However, she claimed, after realising that he was already married, that she started maintaining a distance from him but that he threatened to make her photographs and videos public through social media and made her continue the relationship. Between December 2019 and January 2020, she had signed a contract for films with a Kolkata-based producer, but Saha was unhappy with it and had allegedly threatened the producer.

In April, 2020, the complainant allegedly received photographs capturing her intimate moments with the other producer, and after she became suspicious, she searched the flat and found a spy camera installed in the electric boards of her bedroom and hall. Thereafter, she lodged a complaint against Saha on July 22, 2020.

Advocates Tanveer Nizam and Vrushali Maindad appearing for Saha submitted that allegations made in FIR pertaining to section 376 (punishment for rape) of the IPC and other offences were not disclosed and that the respondent actor is in the habit of filing false complaints.

He submitted that the FIR did not state that the alleged sexual act was without her consent and against her will and that the investigating officer is conducting the probe in ‘biased manner.’

Saha also submitted that he had written a letter to the higher authorities of the police and had filed a complaint against the IO with the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP). Nizam said that the ACP, on inquiry of said complaint, had found that the allegations made against IO appeared to be correct and in view of the same, the court should quash the FIR.

Advocate Subhash Jha, appearing from the respondent woman, opposed the plea and submitted that Saha had moved the special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court, and the apex Court on December 30, 2020 had granted him four-week time to surrender and to apply for regular bail directing that no coercive steps shall be taken against him. The SC had also rejected Saha’s plea seeking extension of time to surrender.

Jha submitted that Saha did not surrender to apply for regular bail and as on today, his status is of ‘absconder’ and therefore the petition does not deserve to be heard on merits of the case.

After hearing submissions and perusing material on record, the bench observed, “Prima facie the ingredients of alleged offences are attracted and consequently the alleged offences are disclosed.”

The court further said that the contention pertaining to offence of rape not being disclosed “cannot be accepted in view of specific allegations made by informant in FIR stating that the petitioner had committed sexual intercourse/assault without consent and against the will of informant.”

If the allegations are disclosed, then the matter should be left to the Investigating Officer for the investigation, the HC said and refused to quash FIR. “The contention that investigation is being carried out in a biased manner needs no consideration once the allegation in the FIR prima facie discloses an alleged offence,” the court said.

Moreover, the bench, while dismissing plea, said that since the petitioner has already approached the higher police authorities and the same is under consideration, it does not think necessary to intervene in the matter and said the authorities should take the appropriate decision.

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