BOMBAY: Justice S. Bharucha of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday overruled preliminary objections raised on behalf of Shiv Sena Chief, Mr. Bal Thackeray and agreed to adjourn the hearing to November 14, allowing the latter time to challenge the High Court order before the Supreme Court as requested.
High drama prevailed in the High Court on Wednesday morning, as Mr. Thackeray appeared amidst heavy police bandobast, followed by an entourage of over ‘one thousand Shiv Sainiks, touting saffron flags and shouting slogans such as “Har har Mahadey,” “Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji,” and “Be proud to call yourself a Hindu,” so large was the number of spectators seeking entry into the sprawling central court room of the High Court, that its doors were locked soon after 1] a.m. and entry denied to all, much to the chagrin of advocates. Only once before, in 1960, during the famous Nanavati case did the High Court witness such a tamasha, recalled old timers.
Mr. Thackeray’s appearance in Bombay High Court was prompted by Justice S. Bharucha because of a petition that has been filed by the defeated Congress (I) candidate, Mr. Prabhakar Kunte, challenging the election of Dr. Ramesh Prabhoo, a “Shiy Sena backed independent candidate” in the Vile Parle Assembly constituency during a by-election held in December 1987. The judge said he was issuing this order on Mr. Thackeray having found a prima facie case of corrupt practices,” against Dr. Prabhoo. The Shiv Sena Chief, as the hearing revealed, had addressed a number of Dr. Prabhoo’s election campaign meeting, and is alleged to have supported his candidature by exploiting the religious sentiments of the voters.
Counsel for Mr. Thackeray, Mr. Adhik Shirodkar told the judge that the notice issued to him under Section 99 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, was vague and did not specify the nature of the alleged corrupt practice committed by his client, thereby enabling him to cross examine witnesses who claimed he was guilty of Corrupt practices under Section 123 (3) and (3-A) of the Act. Referring to three speeches made by Mr. Thackeray and taped by the police, Mr. Shirodkar said his client required details of time, place, persons, words used the candidate name of the candidates’ authorized cause notice,
The contention was rejected by Justice Bharucha, who said Mr. Thackeray had been given notice of the charges under Section 123 (3) and (3-A) and had been informed that the whole of his speeches were objection able.
The contention that the nature of the corrupt practice has not been set out in the notice cannot be accepted because the notice refers to the corrupt practices under subsections (3) and (3-A) of Section 123 of the Act on the basis of which the election petition is challenged. The preliminary objection regarding the validity of the notice is accordingly, rejected, the judge held.
Following the rejection of his appeal, Mr. Shirodkar applied for adjournment of the hearing, enabling him to approach the Supreme Court. The Judge agreed to this, and said that in view of the forthcoming holidays in the Supreme Court and High Court the matter would be adjourned to November 14, 1988.
Mr., Thackeray was given a police escort as he left the High Court premises, even as huge crowds of Shiv Sainiks disrupted High Court activities by shouting slogans at the entrance of the High Court.
Article extracted from this publication >> October 28, 1988