The Supreme Court has rapped International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) Kolkata officials for filing a “frivolous, irresponsible and senseless” case of bus theft against ISKCON Bengaluru office bearers while strongly denouncing the misuse of the legal process for settling personal scores.
Imposing a cost of Rs 1 lakh on the Kolkata officials, the top court said the matter should be viewed seriously as people claiming to be global spiritual leaders are indulging in such practice to settle personal scores and to nurture their egos.
A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi said there is no doubt that the complaint filed by ISKCON Kolkata after a delay of eight years was an abuse of the process of law.
“There remains no shadow of doubt that the complaint filed by the respondent-complainant after an inordinate unexplained delay of eight years was nothing but sheer misuse and abuse of the process of law to settle the personal scores with the appellants.
“….and that continuation of such malicious prosecution would also be further abuse and misuse of process of law, more particularly when neither the allegations made in the complaint nor in the charge sheet, disclose any prima facie case against the appellants,” the bench said.
The apex court said the allegations made against the president and vice president of ISKCON Bengaluru are so absurd and improbable that no prudent person can ever reach a conclusion that there is a sufficient ground for proceeding against them.
“We would like to add that just as bad coins drive out good coins from circulation, bad cases drive out good cases from being heard on time. Because of the proliferation of frivolous cases in the courts, the real and genuine cases have to take a back seat and are not being heard for years together.
“The party who initiates and continues a frivolous, irresponsible and senseless litigation or who abuses the process of the court must be saddled with exemplary cost, so that others may deter to follow such course,” the bench said.
The apex court quashed the criminal proceedings pending against the president and vice president of ISKCON Bengaluru.
“The matter should be viewed more seriously when people who claim themselves and project themselves to be the global spiritual leaders, engage themselves in such kind of frivolous litigations and use the court proceedings as a platform to settle their personal scores or to nurture their personal ego,” the bench said.
According to the complaint, a letter was written by the branch manager of ISKCON Kolkata on September 30, 2006 addressed to the officer incharge, Ballygunge police station, Kolkata, in respect of an alleged theft of a bus in 2001. However, no action was taken by police.
Subsequently, officials of ISKCON Kolkata claimed to have come to know the bus was in the illegal custody of Madhu Pandit Das, president of ISKCON, Bengaluru.
They alleged that Adridharan Das, president of ISKCON Kolkata, had entered into a criminal conspiracy with Madhu Pandit Das and others, and that the latter had stolen the vehicle which was taken to Bengaluru.
Since no action was taken on the letter written to the police station concerned, a complaint was lodged in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Alipore on February 10, 2009 seeking investigation.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the appellants, had submitted the prosecution initiated against ISKCON Bengaluru officials was only an attempt to harass them under the guise of the theft case. Divan said ISKCON Kolkata officials wanted to settle “personal scores” as they were able to create around 30 ISKCON Centres under the aegis of the Hare Krishna movement’s Bengaluru arm.