New Delhi: Defamation proceedings against Suniel Shetty have been dropped by a Delhi court which said the complaint was filed to "extract money" from the Bollywood actor by "maligning his reputation".
The court said not even a prima facie case of defamation was made out against Shetty and his advocate Vineet Dhanda and the complaint was filed against them by "misusing the process of law".
"I find myself in agreement with the submissions of the counsel for accused persons (Shetty and Dhanda) that not even a prima facie case of defamation is made out against any of the accused and the submissions of counsel for the complainant to the contrary are declined.
"I also find myself in agreement with the submissions of counsel for the accused that present complaint has been filed by misusing the process of law as the complainant wants to extract money from accused Sunil Shetty (as he is a public figure) by maligning his reputation and dragging him into frivolous litigation, so that he would agree to pay huge amount to the complainant to avoid harassment," Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Savitri said.
The court passed the order after hearing arguments on the point of framing notice against 52-year-old Shetty, who had appeared before the CMM in the last hearing, and his advocate on the complaint filed by Delhi-based stuntman Pooran Chauhan.
The defamation case was filed in October 2013 against Shetty and Dhanda by Chauhan, who had alleged that they had made false statements before the Delhi High Court and the media that he had beaten one of them inside the washroom of the court premises and an FIR was lodged against him.
Regarding Shetty, the court said as far as law is concerned, he was a layman and the "mere statement on his behalf (which is not even prima facie shown to have been made by him) that his lawyer had complained against Pooran Chauhan and FIR would be registered against him, cannot by any means be said to be a false statement".
It said this has been proved that both Dhanda and Chauhan were present in the High Court on March 22, 2011 and the advocate had made a complaint to police authorities regarding beating by the complainant in washroom of the High Court, on the same day.
"In view of above observations, the proceedings are dropped as there is no sufficient ground to frame notice against the accused persons," the court said.
The court said Chauhan's assertion that no such incident of beating had taken place in the High Court cannot be said to be "sacrosanct truth" at this stage.
On the complainant's claim that he had come to know through an RTI reply from the police headquarters that no FIR was lodged against him and no PCR call was made at the time of the alleged incident, the court had called for a report from
Tilak Marg Police Station which showed a complaint was made by Dhanda regarding the beating incident.
Earlier, Chauhan had complained about the "special treatment" meted out to the actor, who was given the privilege of being heard in judge's chamber while judges and staff of Karkardooma court posed with him for photographs. On March 31, Shetty was given a last opportunity to appear before the court without any fail and Rs 20,000 cost had been imposed on the actor twice for his non-appearance.
Chauhan in his defamation suit has claimed that with the help of his false statement in 2011, Shetty had managed to obtain stay from the high court on summons issued for him to appear in a case in which the actor was accused of not paying him nearly Rs one crore.
According to Chauhan, Shetty had told the high court that on March 2011, his lawyer was beaten by the complainant inside a washroom in the court building. He had claimed that Shetty had also told mediapersons outside the court that an FIR had been lodged against Chauhan and that he would be arrested soon.
Chauhan has said no such beating incident had taken place. He had said he was defamed by Shetty and Dhanda as several newspapers had carried reports that he had beaten up the lawyer.
The high court had earlier issued summons to Shetty and his film producing firm, Pop Corn Entertainment Pvt Ltd, on the recovery suit of Chauhan accusing the actor of not paying him nearly Rs one crore.