Reacting to a frivolous complaint against the actor’s film, Lagaan, the Gujarat HC quashes an FIR against him and others
By Kaushik Joshi
In a major relief to actor Aamir Khan, the Gujarat High Court on May 8, 2015, dropped criminal charges against him, his ex-wife Reena Dutta, director Ashutosh Gowariker and four others for the filming of Lagaan.
Acting Chief Justice VM Sahai quashed criminal proceedings against them for allegations that they had caught a chinkara, a protected animal, and made it run in order to shoot a scene in the film and then killed it at a village in Kutch district.
Lagaan was released in 2001 and almost six years later, an assistant conservator of forest, Forest Protection, Bhuj, initiated the proceedings against Khan and others for offenses punishable under the various provisions of The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
It was alleged in the complaint that the film crew had demanded a chinkara for the shooting from the forest conservator of Bhuj. However, the request was rejected by the order of the chief conservator, Gandhinagar, in November, 1999.
The chief judicial magistrate of Bhuj issued bailable warrants against Khan and others in March 2008. They then obtained a stay from the Gujarat High Court. The high court weighed the statement submitted by Pankaj Khandpur, ex-creative director of Western Outdoor Media Technology, Mum-bai, to the effect that “the entire sequence was by way of special effects and no real animals have ever been used”.
Quashing the application, the chief justice noted: “I am of the considered opinion that this case falls in the category of rarest of rare cases as it led to insurmountable harassment, agony and pain to the petitioners as well as to their reputation only on the imagination of the complainant of unknown facts. There is no evidence, the complaint is false, frivolous, imaginary and absurd which is required to be quashed and set aside.”
Public prosecutor Mitesh Amin strongly pleaded against quashing of the application. But the court observed that no live chinkara was used and the footage of the animal in the film was computer-generated.
Expressing its displeasure at fictional complaints and the time it had to spend on them, the court observed: “It is hazardous, as a fictional criminal complaint has to be taken up by the court when a large number of real complaints are pending … such frivolous complaints are eating into the time of the court and it does not look good on the part of the State.”