New Delhi: In a huge relief to former Test cricket captain M.S. Dhoni, the Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the criminal proceedings which was initiated against him in a court in Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh for a cover photo published in Business Today in 2013 showing him as Lord Vishnu.
In Septmber last, a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi had quahsed similar proceedings in a court in Bengaluru and the proceedings in Anantapur were stayed on a petition from Mr Dhoni seeking transfer of the case to a court in Bengaluru.
On Thursday, a bench of Justices Dipak Misran, A.M. Kanwilkar and M.M. Shantanagouder taking note of the earlier order quased the Anantapur court proceedings not only against Mr Dhoni but also against the editor of the magazine.
In a brief order, the bench said the complaint under Section 295A IPC (hurting the religious feelings) has not been made even remotely going by the ingredients of the complaint filed in Anantapur alleging that by portraying Dhoni as Lord Vishnu, the magazine as well as the former Test captain has hurt the religious sentiments of the people.
In his petition, Dhoni said that the entire complaint against him was false and baseless and it was filed merely to harass the petitioner. He contended that no court can take cognisance of a complaint filed under IPC Section 295A without the previous sanction of the state government concerned and in this case no such sanction was obtained and yet the magistrate proceeded to hear the complaint.
He said he was not guilty of an offence under Section 295A as he neither gave a pose nor was aware of such publication in the magazine. He came to know about the picture only after it was published in the magazine. Contending that there was no mens rea (criminal intention) he said he had not hurt the religious sentiments of any one.
He submitted that the said article/photograph is a work of art and in any case, he was not aware of the publication of his image in said fashion. Further, no remuneration was sought or given by the publishers in lieu of publication of said photograph/article. Dhoni said the complaint was frivolous and intended to harass him. He prayed for quashing the complaint and the proceedings.