After Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut failed to respond to court summons, the Bombay high court cautioned him on Monday, saying that if he doesn’t come to court willingly, it will be forced to employ means to ensure his presence the next time.
“If he doesn’t come on his own, then the court will make him come,” said Justice GS Patel.
The observations came after Raut failed to respond to the court’s summons issued on August 26, which asked him to appear for cross-examination in the ongoing trial over the validity of the late Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s will.
Justice Patel had asked for Saamana’s editor or executive editor to appear before the court for and be cross-examined as a witness for Bal Thackeray’s elder son, Jaidev. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is Saamana’s editor, while Raut is the executive editor.
On Monday, a Saamana staff member informed the court that Raut was unable to respond to the summons as he was not in Mumbai and would return only after October 18.
Justice Patel has now directed Raut to appear in court on October 27, as this is his “last chance” to respond to the summons. If Raut comes to court on that day, it will then fix a date for him to be cross-examined.
The court had also summoned Saamana reporter Rajesh Waradkar, who appeared in court on Monday and answered questions regarding his photographs of Bal Thackeray at a private event in December 2011.
Jaidev and his younger brother Uddhav are embroiled in a high court litigation over the validity of Bal Thackeray’s will. The will — signed by him in December 2011 — leaves most of the family property and assets to Uddhav and his family. Jaidev has challenged this, saying his father was of “unsound mind” at the time.
The court is currently cross-examining the witnesses on Jaidev’s side. Jaidev himself was cross-examined earlier this month.
After Raut, the next person on the witness list is Jaidev’s third and current wife Anuradha. Jaidev’s counsel, Seema Sarnaik, has submitted a list of 34 witnesses to be examined by the court.