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ML Sharma notches up yet another loss in bizarre Rs 25 cr Salman Khan case-costs challenge

ML Sharma, arguing another case
ML Sharma, arguing another case

Adding to his list of failed litigations, Supreme Court of India has dismissed a public interest litigation filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, in which Sharma had urged the court to take judicial note of a statement made by actor Salman Khan’s father Salim Khan that the Khan family had spent Rs 25 crore on the litigation involving 2002-hit and run case.

On 10 December, 2015, Salman Khan was acquitted by the Bombay high court after the court found “evidence produced by the prosecution” not sufficient to convict Salman and that the “prosecution failed to establish the charges on all counts”.

After Khan’s acquittal, his father, Salim Khan, had told media:

People are saying he has just walked away. He has been in the jail for few days. He has spent over Rs 20-25 crores (on the case). Besides this, what about the tension that he and everyone went through all this time?

Terming the above statement an “extra judicial confession” of corruption and having subverted the judicial process, ML Sharma filed a public interest litigation (or criminal writ petition) before the Supreme Court, urging it to take judicial note.

The case Manohar Lal Sharma, Advocate vs Salman Salim Khan & Others (Writ Petition (Crl) No 23 of 2016 [PIL]), was heard by a bench comprising of Justices JS Khehar and R Banumathi.

By: Advocate-off-record

The bench appeared in no mood to entertain the petition, dismissing it outright. The judges said that the amount Salim Khan claimed to have been spent in the course of the litigation may have gone as fee of the lawyers.

“These are wild allegations without any basis,” Khehar said. “You are misrepresenting the facts.”

On Sharma’s plea for witness protection, the court said Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi was arguing for the Maharashtra government which has challenged Salman Khan’s acquittal by the Bombay high court and he could assist him in the course of the hearing.

Before the Bombay high court, Salman Khan was represented by senior counsel Amit Desai and a DSK Legal team headed by partner Anand Desai.

After his conviction by the trial court, senior counsel Harish Salve and DSK Legal had won bail on the day of conviction, on the ground that the judgment was not ready.

Defending himself in the Maharashtra government’s appeal before the Supreme Court, Khan has sought the services of senior counsel Kapil Sibal.

Khan was apparently also helped in part by good PR and a solid legal defence strategy that is not available to the average defendant in a criminal case.

ML Sharma’s battle against Khan

On 31 August 2015, a Supreme Court bench of then-Chief Justice of India (CJI) HL Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy had refused to entertain an SLP argued by ML Sharma, seeking cancellation of bail granted to Khan by the Bombay high court.

The SLP was filed by Sushila Bai Himmat Rao Patil, mother of Mumbai former PSO of Khan – late Ravindra Himmatrao Patil.

Sharma had then, on instructions, withdrawn the SLP “with liberty to make yet another application before appropriate forum”.

In the petition, Sharma had claimed that the state machinery, police and administrative offices were “standing behind Khan to destroy prosecution case in favour of the accused person (Khan) by hook and by crook.”

SC had curtailed Sharma’s filing abilities

On 1 May last year, a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice JS Khehar had issued notice to Sharma to show cause as to “why he should not be debarred from filing and/or canvassing any Public Interest Litigation on account of the irresponsible and scandalous allegations levelled by him”.

In his petition challenging the NJAC, Sharma had referred the members of parliament as “corrupt politicians and in-house criminals”.

Sharma had later tendered an unconditional apology with an undertaking that he would not make any similar derogatory remarks in any public interest litigation filed in future, without supporting material, and without impleading the concerned persons as party respondents.

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