Shaji Purushothaman, the accused in Egmore hit-and-run case, committed “the abuse of process of court” by seeking anticipatory bail from High Court of Kerala after the Madras High Court threw out his plea earlier, pointed out legal experts.
Shaji approached the High Court of Kerala stating that he was a Keralite and was residing with his family at Kollam in his anticipatory bail plea. He also stated he was staying at Pattathuvila, Pattathanam, Kollam. In his earlier petition before the Madras High Court the accused had stated that he was staying at Flat No 2, Eloanso Building, Halls Road Egmore, Chennai.
A senior lawyer of the High Court of Kerala said the act “amounted to an abuse of process and proximate to an offence of perjury. It also amounted to an offence against public justice covered by Chapter 11 of the India Penal Code, he said.
“In a criminal offence, for trial and granting bail, there will be a competent court having territorial jurisdiction. When an offence is committed in a particular place, only the court having territorial jurisdiction will get the authority to try the offence. Likewise, in the matter of bail and anticipatory bail also, principles of territorial jurisdiction apply,” he said.
“In case of anticipatory bail, the Sessions Court as well as the High Court, under whose jurisdiction the offence is alleged to have been committed, will have the jurisdiction to consider anticipatory bail. An accused can, as of right, move the respective court having jurisdiction seeking bail or anticipatory bail. Once he has moved an application, he rather subject himself to the jurisdiction of that court,” he said.
Having done so, he cannot approach a High Court in another State seeking the same relief especially when the prayer was rejected by the High Court he had approached earlier, he said.
Another senior lawyer of the High Court, who sought anonymity, also subscribed to the argument that the accused committed the abuse of process of court in the case.
If the accused had filed the petition in the Kerala High Court before filing the same in the Madras High Court, it would have been an illegal act. As the accused in the case had approached the Madras High Court first and later approached the High Court of Kerala, there is an abuse of the process of the court, he pointed out.
T. Asaf Ali, Director General of Prosecution (DGP), felt that there was “an illegality in the act” though no offence was involved in it.” However, all illegal acts need not be offences too, he said.
The accused approached the High Court of Kerala after providing a local address with the intention of obtaining an anticipatory bail from the court. Though there was an illegality in the act, police cannot take action in this case and it was up to the court officer to initiate legal action. Charges of perjury would not stand in this case, he said.
P.S. Sreedharan Pillai, former State president of the BJP and a lawyer, said no illegality was involved regarding the addresses as the accused had not suppressed the fact that he had approached the Madras High Court earlier, he said.