January 28, 2016 12:02:19 am
THE Bombay City Civil and Sessions Court stayed a police investigation into claims that the election for the top leadership of the Indian Institute of Architects was rigged.
Sessions Judge R G Wankhade set aside an order of the metropolitan magistrate who had directed the police last year to register a criminal complaint in the matter. The institute which represents architects across the country has a membership of over 15,000. The election to its council last year was conducted digitally for the first time.
“For the sake of innovation and to facilitate all members to cast their votes from their homes, the institute had decided to conduct the poll digitally. It has over 15,000 members and they were finding it difficult to come down and cast their votes. It was a progressive thought, but little did they imagine that it would land them in a legal tangle,” said advocate Ashish Chavan who represented the newly-elected council.
Two factions contested the elections. Dilip Deshmukh who lost the polls, approached the metropolitan magistrate last year, accusing the winning members of rigging. On November 2 last year, the metropolitan magistrate directed the police to investigate the claims and file a report. N S Keshkamat, the institute’s CEO and other top officials then approached the sessions court for relief, filing a criminal revision application and requesting the lower’s court order be set aside. In an order passed on January 12, Judge Wankhade dismissed the order.
“The process of registering a police complaint had begun. The apprehension was that once an FIR was filed, the police might put pressure on my clients and they would have to apply for anticipatory bail. They would have to run from pillar to post. This is a welcome move by the sessions court. This was only a civil dispute camouflaged as a criminal complaint,” Chavan said.
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