After more than two years, the Lilavati Hospital row over alleged siphoning of funds by trustees may draw to a close this week.
The Bombay High Court on Monday reserved order on a petition filed by Charu Kishor Mehta, who claims to be a trustee of the Bandra hospital, against alleged inaction on part of the police in registering a first information report (FIR) on her complaint.
On April 25, 2008, Charu Mehta had filed a complaint with the Crime Branch alleging that some trustees had siphoned of huge amounts to purchase properties. The complaint was forwarded to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), which chose to conduct a preliminary inquiry instead of registering an FIR on the basis of the complaint.
Later, in July 2008, the EOW transferred the complaint to the charity commissioner, who deals with charitable trusts, concluding the dispute was of civil nature. Charu had moved the high court against the course adopted by the EOW on her complaint.
Her counsel, Mahesh Jethmalani, contended that the police action was contrary to judgements of the Supreme Court, which state that police officers are bound to register an FIR on receipt of a complaint disclosing cognisable offence.
He pointed out that limited preliminary inquiry could be conducted in exceptional cases and that too for a day or two. He took strong exception to the EOW’s conclusion that it was a civil dispute. "Can a case of forgery become a civil dispute?" asked Jethmalani. Counsel for the respondent trustees, Amit Desai, said writ petition seeking registration of an FIR was "not maintainable" because the petitioner had the option of filing a private complaint with a magistrate’s court.
"It has been acquired for the benefit of the trust," he said.
The division bench is likely to pronounce the order on Friday.