Biography of Justice B. P. Dharmadhikari

Judge Bhushan Pradyumna Dharmadhikari of the Bombay High Court in Nagpur was born on April 28, 1958, and holds the degrees of B.Sc. (Biology), Additional B.A. in English Literature, and LL.B. He graduated from Nagpur University, currently known as Rashtra Sant Tukdoji Maharaj University, with a B.Sc. degree in 1977 and a law degree in March/April 1980.

He began practicing law in Nagpur in October 1980, after enrolling with the Maharashtra Bar Council with the number 1341/17.10.1980. After earning his LL.B., he worked for a short time in the chambers of Advocate Y. S. Dharmadhikari in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), before returning to Nagpur and working for Advocate H.S. Ghare until 1984. After Shri Ghare was appointed as City Civil Judge, he began working on his own. He appeared in all courts, including the Labour Court, Industrial Court, Civil and Criminal Courts, High Court, Central and State Administrative Tribunals, Co-operative Court, and Revenue Authorities, for a variety of government corporations, industries, employers, unions, and private clients.

He was elected Secretary V.L.L.P.A. for four years without opposition and Library In-Charge High Court Bar Association for three years without opposition. For the next three years, he was chosen Treasurer of the H.C.B.A. Since 1997, he has been a Guest Lecturer at Nagpur’s Judicial Officers Training Institute. On the 15th of March, 2004, he was promoted to Additional Judge, and on the 12th of March, 2006, he was promoted to Judge.

He was named Acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court on February 24, 2020, upon the retirement of Chief Justice of the High Court Pradeep Nandrajog. He was named Acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court on February 24, 2020. On March 20, 2020, he was named Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court. On April 27, 2020, he announced his retirement.

Charan Singh vs. State of Maharashtra

In this case, the appellant (Charan Singh) was the subject of a complaint filed with the Mumbai Anti-Corruption Bureau, alleging multiple wrongdoings against him and his brothers. The allegation concerned the buildup of assets that were out of proportion to their recognized source of income. As a result, the police inspector issued a notice to the appellant, requiring him to furnish specific papers and to remain personally present in an open investigation before the Anti-Corruption Office’s investigative officer. The purpose of the open inquiry was to obtain the appellant’s statement regarding the property he owns, as well as certain other information listed in the notice.

Dissatisfied with the notice, the appellant filed a writ petition in the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, Nagpur Bench, Nagpur, invoking the writ jurisdiction of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, Nagpur Bench, Nagpur, under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. In the matter of Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh, the High Court dismissed the writ petition and declined to quash the notice. An investigation at the pre-FIR stage is admissible, not only permissible, but desirable, according to the High Court bench, particularly in circumstances where the allegations are of misconduct or corrupt behaviour in amassing assets/properties disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The pre-FIR open inquiry supports the police in assessing the reliability of the claims made and gathering essential information in order to establish whether or not the offence is cognizable. And, while the notice cannot compel someone to attend in person, it may put the individual who refuses to answer it in danger. The appellant, who was dissatisfied with the rejection, went on to file a criminal appeal with the Supreme Court.

The parties’ contentions in the case

1. That the police inspector of the Anti-corruption Bureau lacked authority to issue the stated notice, and that it lacked legislative authority to compel anyone’s presence.

2. That the notice was issued in ostensible exercise of Section 160, CrPC, but that it went beyond the section’s scope and extent because the appellant cannot be considered a witness in the matter.

3. That the High Court erred in dismissing the writ petition by relying on the Lalita Kumari case, and that it should have recognized that the content of the notice is covered by Articles 20(3) and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

On the other hand:

The state, claimed that the notice was issued in order to obtain the appellant’s statement in a discreet open inquiry that was in the character of a preliminary inquiry and was conducted in accordance with Section 13(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Because the appellant has partially presented himself with some details at the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the reason for compelling his attendance under the notice is no longer valid.

2. That the notice was given in accordance with natural justice principles, and that Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code was cited mistakenly.

3. There was no breach of Article 20(3) because there was no FIR filed against the appellant at the time and no accusation leveled against him.

Judgement

The goal of a preliminary inquiry is to screen frivolous and maliciously motivated complaints with the intent to harm someone. It is significant in behaving fairly and objectively and not unduly initiating criminal proceedings.

Such a preliminary investigation is necessary to determine the truth in the context of significant claims made before filing a FIR, which carries with it the burden of societal shame. The filing of a FIR can result in serious consequences for the accused, such as loss of liberty and mental agony. An FIR is a substantial piece of evidence that can have a significant impact on a person’s reputation and social standing. Even more so for someone in a high-ranking position in society, because it would jeopardize his own integrity, as well as that of the department and office he represents.

Even if such investigations are to take place, the court stated that they should be limited to those who have knowledge of the person’s business in order to provide prima facie evidence that can then be used to follow the ordinary law of the land. As a result, if the complaint is discovered to be false, the case can be closed without having to go through the entire criminal procedure and with no injury to the person’s societal personality. If a cognizable offence is discovered, the police can proceed with filing a FIR with less manipulation and a more rapid inquiry.

Reference

1. Nihalsing B Rathod, Justice B. P. Dharmadhikari, May 1, 2020, https://theleaflet.in/bidding-heartfelt-adieu-to-justice-b-p-dharmadhikari-from-juniors/

2. Charansingh vs The State Of Maharashtra, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.363 OF 2021

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