New Delhi: Observing that there was no public interest involved in individual matters, the Bombay High Court on Wednesay disposed of a batch of PILs alleging that self-styled godwoman Sukhvinder Kaur alias Radhe Maa was impersonating as Goddess Durga and cheating devotees by taking money from them.
“We are of the view that petitions against the respondent number 2 (Radhe Maa) cannot be said to be PILs as they are not concerned about public interest but are individual matters,” a bench headed by Justice V M Kanade said. The high court, however, ruled that private complaints can be filed with police or in a magistrate’s court against the self-styled godwoman and investigations can proceed in accordance with law.
A bench also allowed another PIL against Radhe Maa to be withdrawn after petitioner Ramesh Joshi informed the court that police had accepted his prayer and filed an FIR against her for carrying trident in an aircraft from Aurangabad to Mumbai last year.
According to this PIL, carrying weapons is banned under laws for security reasons. Although the PIL prayed the high court to monitor investigation, the bench said, “We are afraid that we cannot do this. Such a prayer cannot be made in a PIL.” Other PILs were filed by advocate Falguni Bhrambhat and others. All PILs sought action against the self-styled godwoman for allegedly luring devotees and taking money from them. Some of the petitions even sought transfer of the probe from Borivali police to the crime branch or a higher authority in police department.
The allegations made against Radhe Maa are based on newspaper reports and the police have not been able to find any illegality in these matters, the bench observed while adding that such imputations cannot be made in a PIL. The judges said that the high court has never entertained any individual petitions as PIL and on this ground alone, all the PILs against Radhe Maa are being disposed of.
“We find that large number of private cases are filed for various reasons and the courts are required to hear them and give orders. A lot of time is wasted and a huge pendency of cases remains,” the judges said.
“Currently, more than 3 crore cases are pending in India and it might take five to ten years to hear them and decide. The apprehensions raised by the petitioners that we courts) are not concerned about them is misconceived,” the bench said.
“Police have a right to hear these complaints and take preliminary action against the accused and if no case is made out against him or her they can also refuse to entertain such matters any further,” it remarked.
In August last year, the high court had granted interim pre-arrest bail to Radhe Maa in a dowry harassment case after a Borivali Magistrate had asked police to probe allegations against her made by a housewife.