Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, filed a private criminal case against Sambhaji Bhide at Pune’s district court on Friday over alleged disparaging remarks made by Sambhaji against Mahatma Gandhi and other national figures.
Gandhi had filed a formal police complaint in Pune at Deccan Gymkhana Police Station on August 10th. The complaint sought legal action against Bhide under sections 499 (defamation), 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups), and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code. However, no action was initiated. Consequently, he has now filed a private criminal case at Pune District Court. Advocate Asim Sarode is assisting him in filing a private criminal case directly with the Pune District Court.
What is a private criminal case?
A private criminal case in India is initiated by an individual or entity, such as the victim, to seek legal action against an alleged offender. It is distinct from cases filed by police. The court's role in this process involves reviewing the complaint, issuing summons to the accused, conducting proceedings, and determining the guilt or innocence of the accused based on the evidence presented. Both the complainant and accused have the right to legal representation, and the prosecution bears the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Tushar Gandhi expresses disappointment with lack of police action
Bhide, known as 'Bhide Guruji' among his followers, is accused of making offensive remarks about Mahatma Gandhi's lineage in his speech during a programme in Amravati district in the last week of July. Bhide has drawn flak for his controversial comments in the past as well. On August 7th, the Navi Mumbai Police had registered an FIR following a complaint over his alleged derogatory comments against Gautam Buddha and social reformers Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Periyar.
Tushar Gandhi expressed disappointment with the lack of police action and emphasized citizens' rights to pursue legal avenues in a democratic society.
Speaking with the media, Tushar Gandhi said, “A month ago, I filed a complaint with Deccan Police, but no action has been taken yet. Therefore, I am planning to file a criminal complaint against Sambhaji Bhide, following democratic processes. As we believe in democracy, this is the route we will take and seek legal recourse.”
Expressing disappointment, he added, "It's disheartening that the police seem to be under political pressure. This is a matter for citizens to remember. They assured us of legal advice and action but failed to deliver. From the Prime Minister to the Home Minister, no one seems to be against Sambhaji Bhide. Law-abiding citizens have no option but to approach the court."
Adv Sarode emphasizes necessity of action against Bhide's defamatory behaviour
Advocate Asim Sarode reiterated the importance of addressing Bhide's habitual defamatory behaviour and stressed the necessity of a private complaint. The aim is to register an offence against Sambhaji Bhide and ensure appropriate legal action is taken. He said, “Sambhaji Bhide has made defamatory statements that could potentially cause rifts in society and mislead the people. We filed a complaint with the Deccan Police Station, but we are unaware of any pressure that might have influenced the station, as they haven't taken any cognisance of the matter. Therefore, we are filing a private complaint case in the district court. An offence should be registered against Bhide, and appropriate action should be taken against him.”