The High Court of Karnataka has quashed charges of cheating, giving false statement and using evidence known to be false levelled against Latha Rajinikanth, wife of actor Rajinikanth, in a criminal case filed by a Chennai-based advertising company in 2015.
However, the court allowed continuation of proceedings against her in a trial court on the charge of allegedly fabricating a document.
Justice M. Nagaprasanna, in his August 2 order, partly allowed Ms. Latha’s petition. She had questioned the magistrate court’s March 27, 2021 order taking cognisance of various offences against her based on a charge sheet filed by the Bengaluru police in February 2021.
In 2015, Chennai-based Ad Bureau Advertising Pvt. Ltd. had lodged a private complaint in a magistrate court in Bengaluru accusing Ms. Latha of filing a suit in a Bengaluru civil court in 2014 by allegedly producing a fabricated document and getting a temporary injunction against the company and various media houses from making any statement against her in relation to a financial dispute.
The temporary injunction was related to a financial dispute between Ad Bureau and Mediaone Global Entertainment Limited, which had produced Tamil film Kochadiiyaan, starring Rajinikanth.
It was claimed that Ms. Latha had not honoured her alleged personal guarantee given to Ad Bureau on behalf of Mediaone to make good the loss from the film, and this issue was widely reported in the print and electronic media.
After the Bengaluru civil court in 2015 returned Ms. Latha’s suit for want of territorial jurisdiction and vacated the temporary injunction, Ad Bureau lodged a private complaint, which the magistrate court in June 2015 referred to the police for investigation.
In March 2016, the High Court quashed the complaint stating that it was a result of a civil dispute and there was no ingredient for the offences alleged against Ms. Latha. But in 2018, the apex court allowed continuation of criminal proceedings, and the police filed a charge sheet against her.
HC allows proceedings with regards to forgery
Now, the High Court has held that the trial court could not have taken cognisance of offences under Sections 196 (using evidence known to be false) and 199 (false statement made in declaration which is by law receivable as evidence) as there is a bar on the court, under Section 195 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, to entertain private complaints for these offences.
The High Court also said that there is no ingredient for the offence of cheating the complainant company.
However, the High Court allowed continuation of proceedings for the offence of Section 463 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code as it is separable from the offences under Sections 196 and 199 of the IPC.
It was alleged in the complaint that a letter was fabricated in the name of the Publishers and Broadcasters’ Welfare Association of India, Bengaluru, a body that does not exist, and the letter was submitted along with Ms. Latha’s suit in 2014.