Free Press Journal

Falsely implicated activist gets Bombay High Court relief


Mumbai High Court

Mumbai: Observing that an accused has invited the wrath of the hawkers and the municipal staff due to his activism, the Bombay High Court stayed the trial proceedings against him.

The accused Rustom Soonawala, an activist and a doctor by profession, was booked for raping one of his patients in May 2013. He was an active member of a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) ‘CitiSpace’ that operates in Bandra, Mumbai.

Soonawala had taken active part in an attempt to eradicate menace of hawkers in Mumbai and particularly in Bandra area. He also contended that he had lodged several complaints with the top officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) highlighting the apathy of junior staff of the civic body in evicting hawkers. He even highlighted the fact that the BMC had to shell out Rs 2 lakh after being pulled up by the Supreme Court for their failure in taking cognizance of Soonawala’s complaints.

However, he was booked for rape after the complainant woman registered a case against him. In her complaint, she said that she was suffering from tuberculosis and she, along with her husband, had gone to Soonawala’s clinic for medical check-up.

She claimed that Soonawala had asked her husband to go out of the examination hall and then raped her.

On the other hand, Soonawala, maintained that he was falsely implicated in this case.

Accordingly, he had approached a single-judge bench of Justice Anant Badar, seeking discharge. After considering the submissions, Justice Badar said, “It appears that the applicant (Soonawala) has invited wrath of the hawkers in the area so also that of municipal staff in the area.”

“Undisputedly, the receptionist was also present in the clinic at the time of alleged incident. Strangely, the complainant had not resisted or made any noise when she was knowing that her husband is in the clinic itself,” Justice Badar added.

Posting the matter for final hearing on June 22, Justice Badar stayed the trial court proceedings against Soonawala.