Businessman and socialite Nikhil Daswani will have to face minor charges attracting punishment of up to three years imprisonment in a decade-old case lodged against him by fashion stylist Kavita Lakhani. The Bombay high court on Monday rejected a petition filed by the latter challenging Daswani’s discharge from three serious charges.
“Though the treatment meted out to the petitioner [Lakhani] prima facie appears to be rather gross, an offence under section 366 [of the Indian Penal Code for kidnapping, abducting or inducing a woman to compel her marriage] is not made out,” said justice Roshan Dalvi.
Lakhani and Daswani, the heir to Charagh Din shirts empire, were friends and in a relationship.
On September 11, 2003, Lakhani lodged a complaint against Daswani alleging he forcefully took her to his residence and assaulted her. The police investigated the matter and filed a charge sheet before an additional metropolitan magistrate court. The magistrate committed the case to a sessions court after finding a prima facie case under IPC sections 363 (kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage) and sections 506 (ii) (criminal intimidation) along with four other minor offences. The sessions court, however, on July 4, 2007 discharged Daswani from the three serious offences, and remanded the matter back to the magistrate court.
Lakhani moved the high court belatedly — in October 2012 — challenging the sessions court order, but restricted her arguments primarily pressing only one penal provision — section 366 of the IPC.
Justice Dalvi, however, held that the evidence on record does not show that Lakhani was kidnapped with an intention of forcing her to marry or for the purpose of intercourse without consent, and therefore, there was no reason to interfere with the sessions court order.