Proceedings against Mallika Sherawat for promoting obscenity, quashed

Bombay High Court: While allowing the criminal revision application filed by well known actress Mallika Sherawat, A.B. Chaudhari, J. established the rule that order of issuance of process u/s 204 of Cr.PC must be passed by a District Court only after existence of “sufficient grounds” have been established. An order of issuance of process must precede the application of mind to the law. The Court also invoked its revisionary jurisdiction u/s 397 Cr.PC against the issue of process by the District Court by relying on Urmila Devi v. Yudhvir Singh (2013) 15 SCC 624.

The complaint against the actress was that she has played roles in films that create a lascivious effect on the minds of youths and viewers and as a result thereof crimes are committed, thus spoiling the social health. The Court observed that the complaint was of a general nature. A.S. Chakotkar and Rashi Deshpande appeared for the applicant and the non- applicant respectively.

The Court relied on the Supreme Court judgment of Raj Kapoor v. Laxman (1980) 2 SCC 175, to allow the prayer of the applicant to quash the complaint and subsequent proceedings against her. The Board considers, before certification, all the points that Section 292 I.P.C prescribes. Section 79 makes an offence a non-offense. So, if the Board of Censors acting within their jurisdiction, sanctions the public exhibition of the film, then the producer and the connected agencies are protected u/s Section 79 at least in view of their bona fide belief that the certificate is justified.  The Court went on to reprimand the Magistrate for not bothering to apply his mind to the Cinematograph Act and various judgments of the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court on this point. The Court further stated that the remedy for the non applicants lies under Section 5D of the Cinematograph Act, if at all they are aggrieved by the certificate. [Mallika Sherawat v. State of Maharashtra, 2015 SCC Online Bom 5912, Decided on 29.10.2015]

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