New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to film actress Sridevi on a lawsuit seeking her prosecution for allegedly issuing three cheques worth a total of Rs.96.6 million to a Mumbai-based film financer which bounced.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice M.K. Sharma issued notice to the actress on a petition by financier Madhu Gupta, who owns Mumbai-based Photo Films Industries.
Gupta moved the apex court seeking suspension of a Bombay High Court order, which had stalled trial courts at Kurla and Girgaum in Mumbai on March 26 in the metropolis from conducting criminal proceedings against the actress for recovery of the money from her.
Appearing for Gupta, senior counsel Harish Salve said his client had been supplying raw photo films and funding the film production business of Sridevi, her husband Boney Kapoor and father-in-law Surendra Kapoor.
He alleged that Sridevi, to clear her debts incurred in the family's film production business, had made out three cheques worth Rs.96.6 million to Gupta in March 2007.
But all the three cheques made out by her were dishonoured by the bank for want of sufficient funds in Sridevi's bank account, Salve said.
He added that his client subsequently moved the Mumbai trial courts at Kurla and Girgaum for recovery of dues from the film actress in April 2007.
On Gupta's complaints, the Mumbai courts even issued summons to Sridevi, but the actress evaded appearing in the court by seeking repeated adjournments of the case on various grounds, Salve told the bench.
On the other hand, Sridevi got a criminal case registered against Gupta at the Juhu police station in Mumbai, alleging she had never issued any cheque to Gupta and the cheques with her purported signatures that the financier had presented to the court appeared to be forged, said Salve.
Salve said Mumbai Police after taking up the probe into the case of forgery lodged by Sridevi, approached her and demanded the copies of the cheque from her on the pretext of investigation.
But she, relying upon an apex court ruling, refused to hand over the cheques to them as it would have led to the dismissal of her own cheque bouncing case and would have made the recovery difficult, pointed out Salve.
Sridevi then moved the Bombay High Court for quashing of the criminal proceedings launched by the Mumbai magisterial courts in the cheque bouncing case, said Salve adding that the high court, in turn, has stalled the trial court proceedings against the film star.
The financier sought annulment of the high court's ruling in favour of Sridevi, contending that as per the existing legal provisions and various rulings of the apex court, the superior court should sparingly use its power to annul criminal proceedings against a person.
The apex court will now proceed after the actress files her reply to the court responding to allegations against her. She is expected to file her reply within four weeks.