The Supreme Court on Monday asked Bollywood actor Govinda to apologise to a fan whom he slapped seven years ago while shooting for a film in Mumbai. The court said the actor will otherwise face prosecution for criminal intimidation and assault that may land him in jail for two years.
“We also like watching his movies. He is a big actor. When you make a mistake you should have a heart to admit it. You should ask him (the complainant) to forgive and forget,” a justices TS Thakur and V Gopala Gowda told Govinda’s counsel when he opposed a petition that wants the SC to revive a criminal case against the actor.
Complainant Santosh Bateshwar Ray has moved the SC against the Bombay high court judgement that quashed a trial court order summoning Govinda as an accused in the assault case. Ray had filed a private complaint before the trial court for the star’s prosecution.
Justice Thakur, who is set to take over as the new Chief Justice of India, said the star was also an MP at the time of the incident. “He should accept his mistake rather than prolonging the litigation that began in January 2008. The bench refused to believe that the television footage showing the star assaulting Ray was morphed. The judges saw the video clip on the mobile phone of Ray’s advocate and said: “This is a TV report. It cannot be wrong.”
When Govinda’s counsel offered to tender an apology before the court and monetary compensation to Ray, the court told him that it was for the complainant to accept or reject it. “You don’t have to apologise to the court. If he (Ray) is unwilling to accept the apology then he (Govinda) may have to face prosecution,” the actor’s counsel was told by the court, ruling out monetary compensation.
Ray’s counsel, advocate Jatin Javeri, intervened to assure the court that his client will be satisfied with an apology. “You need not express regret here. It is a matter between you and the complainant. Your expression of regret here will not solve the matter here... It need not be made here. You should make it to the complainant. There should be remorse and apology. You must ask your client to call on him and express regret and he must accept the regret. If he does not want to accept, we can’t help you. It is for you both to decide,” justice Thakur said while adjourning the matter till February 2016, asking the two to reach an amicable solution.
Ray had demanded that Govinda should face criminal trial for criminal intimidation (section 506 IPC) and for using criminal force to cause him grievous hurt (sections 323 and 353 IPC). Under section 506 Govinda can face jail term up to two years. The law permits a compromise between the complainant and the accused. The court can also impose only fine on the accused.
Ray, who was present in the SC during the hearing, told Hindustan Times that Govinda slapped him without any provocation. “I was just watching the shooting of a movie as I was his fan. But the incident left me shocked and I lost all respect for him,” he said.