Apex court grants bail to women in slipper-throwing episode (Lead)

March 23rd, 2009 - 9:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Sushil Kumar New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) Four days after sending them to jail when one of them hurled a slipper at an apex court judge, the Supreme Court Monday granted bail to four women of a Mumbai-based school - in keeping with the judiciary’s commitment to the due process of law which requires proper trial and examination of witnesses.
A bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal granted bail to the women, contending that despite the offence of throwing a slipper at a judge in a packed courtroom they could not be convicted and sentenced summarily without following the process of law or without having an opportunity to defend himself or herself.

The bench, which also included Justices G.S. Singhvi and R.M. Lodha, granted bail till resolution of the question and decided to hear the matter April 14.

The women, Leila David, Annette Kottian, Pavitra Murli and Savita Parekh, along with their male colleague Kishore Parekh from the Boss School of Music were Friday sentenced to three months’ in jail after one of them threw a slipper at Justice Arijit Pasayat.

Justice Pasayat proceeded to convict the five within minutes, saying that the incident occurred in the presence of several eyewitnesses including Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati, Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran and senior advocate Sushil Kumar Jain.

But another judge on the bench, Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, differed with Justice Pasayat and refused to sign the order.

Though Justice Pasayat later - Friday evening - modified his order and acquitted Kishore Parekh of the charges of showing disrespect to the court, the difference of opinion between the two judges persisted.

This resulted in the bench referring the matter to Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, who in turn referred the matter to a three-judge bench.

The bench said it would hear the matter, including the Boss School’s plea challenging a Bombay High Court order which had recommended the examination of their mental state, together.

One of the music school associates, Nancy D’Souza, told IANS Friday that the school’s problem started when parents of some children accused the staff of hypnotising their kids and practising black magic on them.

She said the parents approached the Bombay High Court with their allegation, prompting the court to order a probe by police. Though the police gave them a clean chit, the high court ordered examination of their mental states, said D’Souza.

The members of the Boss School of Music, which D’Souza said is a firm registered under the Company Act, 1957, has had a chequered history of tiffs with judges.

On one occasion last year, Justice Pasayat had issued notices to them for committing contempt of court by entering into an unsavoury argument with the judge.

The court was yet to take a final decision on the question of convicting and sentencing them for committing contempt of court during Friday’s hearing when one of them flung a slipper at Justice Pasayat.

The incident occurred a day after an apex court official, responsible for examining the contents of a lawsuit before accepting them for hearing, refused the Boss School members permission to file a lawsuit. The lawsuit filed wanted Justice Pasayat to abandon hearing their earlier pleas against the Bombay High Court order for examining their mental states.

The Boss School members also wanted launch of criminal proceedings against seven judges of the apex court, including Chief justice K.G. Balakrishnan, besides 14 judges of the Bombay High Court.

They wanted their plea to be heard by a bench comprising all the judges of the apex court.

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