The Supreme Court on Monday restrained a Mumbai trial court from hearing the rape case against filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar and issued notices to the state government on his petition challenging the criminal proceedings.
Actress Preeti Jain had lodged a complaint with the Versova police against Bhandarkar in July 2004 alleging that he had raped her 16 times between 1999 and 2004 on the pretext of casting her in his films. Bhandarkar was granted anticipatory bail in 2004.
Bhandarkar's counsel Shivaji Jadhav said with the apex court staying the proceedings, the director would not have to appear before the magistrate's court on Tuesday. "The court was to commit the case to the sessions court for trial. Tuesday was fixed after the Bombay high court on March 22 dismissed a petition seeking quashing of the lower court order rejecting a police report giving the director a clean chit," Jadhav said.
Bhandarkar had moved the Supreme Court against the high court verdict. A bench of justice HL Dattu and justice CK Prasad issued notice to the state and Jain after senior counsel Harish Salve assailed the high court verdict denying relief to his client.
Bhandarkar said he was relieved by the Supreme Court order. "This is a great relief for me, my family and friends. In 2004, when this case came up, I had just got married. Though I was taken aback, I decided to fight. I was upset when people shunned and abused me, but I fought back and kept making films. My family has been my biggest support," he said.
Asked whether he plans to take action against Jain, Bhandarkar said, "I have not thought about this at the moment. I am happy with the court verdict. My lawyer will decide if a defamation suit has to be filed or not."
Inputs by Priyanka Jain