Bombay High Court Justice A. V. Nirgude dismissing a case of forgery and cheating saying police officers have lost their sense of humour could have been dismissed as a bad joke but is not a laughing matter and has serious implications and grave consequences. Versova police had registered a case on 1/3/2012 against Sanjay Gupta, Balaji Motion Pictures and glamsham.com for forging the summons from Police Commissioner’s office to promote the film Shootout at Lokhandawala. The forged summons had the subject, “Briefing on the current crime scenario in Bombay.” It had stated “This is to inform you that the Commissioner of Police requests your presence on the 29th of February at 3.15 pm on stage No 2 of Mehboob Studio to address the sudden and dangerous rise of organised crime in the city.” When the journalists landed at the place they realized it was an invitation for press conference. The journalists were not amused. The police were not amused. The sessions court rejected Sanjay Gupta’s anticipatory bail plea. Sanjay Gupta had moved the High Court. A. V. Nirgude heard the case.
Sanjay Gupta’s contention that there was a disclaimer at the back of the invitation card was not a proper defence. If at all there was a disclaimer it should have been on the same page and not at the back.
“This is an innovative invitation. That’s it.” “The police officers who registered the offence have lost their sense of humour.” “And what happened to the sense of humour of the sessions judge?” These are some of the things the judge said or wrote. Use of national emblem on invitation card was too much even for the judge but he accepted the contention that it was done on an impulse.
Whether the police could not prove wrongful gain or loss on the part of producers of movie is a matter of interpretation. There was wrongful gain for producers by way of publicity for the film. There was wrongful loss for journalists as it was loss of time, money and labour.
Producers do many things for publicity. Once a headline appeared; Manisha Koirala murdered, Criminal at large. It was publicity for the film Criminal.
April 1 is All Fool’s Day. Fooling is tolerated on that day. Sometimes newspapers and magazines come up with reports that shock people.
This judgment can be used by criminals to justify their actions. All who commit forgery or cheating when caught can claim their targets or victims do not have the sense of humour. Those who forge bank drafts, cheques, pay orders, letterheads of President or Vice President of India or Governors or ministers, court summons or orders or judgments etc. can claim they were joking and get away with it. Many people have used forged court orders to get prisoners released. There are criminals who impersonate CBI or police officers and cheat people. Many years back one claimed to be a CBI officer, carried out a raid on jewellers and disappeared with jewellery. Bandits have used police uniform. Terrorists have used army or police uniform.
Bombay Police should appeal against the judgment.