The Delhi High Court has upheld a sessions court's order discharging socialite Bina Ramani, owner of restro-bar Tamarind Court where model Jessica Lal was shot dead in 1999, in an alleged forgery case.
Justice P S Teji said the sessions court decision to set aside the order passed by a magisterial court framing charge under section 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of IPC against Ramani has no "illegality or infirmity".
The court further observed that the FIR was registered on August 4, 2006 and the charge sheet was filed in June 2013 about seven years after the registration of FIR, against her "which is clearly barred by the limitation as provided under Section 468 (bar to taking cognisance after lapse of the period of limitation) CrPC".
The police had filed the charge sheet saying during the probe into Jessica murder case, it was found that Ramani was running a restro-bar 'Once Upon a Time' at Mehrauli Road in South Delhi without a valid licence for serving liquor by using forged documents.
The magistrate had discharged Ramani and others for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and others. It had, however, framed charge only under section 471 of the IPC against Ramani.
The police then filed a revision petition before the sessions court challenging the magistrate's order discharging Ramani for the alleged offences.
The sessions judge had dismissed the plea of police observing that the charge sheet was filed in 2013 after seven years of the FIR being registered and thus, the order framing charge against Ramani was barred by limitation.
Concurring with the findings of the sessions judge, the high court judge said, "This court finds no illegality or infirmity in the reasoning given by Additional Session Judge and this court finds no reason to take a different view from the said order".
The high court also said that apart from the question of limitation, the other reason exists for the discharge of Ramani is that when apparently charge of cheating and forgery are not made out against her, then the document used by her could not be termed as using of the forged document as genuine.
"In the present case, she has been discharged from the offence under Section 467/468 of IPC, i.E. Forging of the document, so the alleged use of document does not subsist.
"In view of the aforesaid discussion and the facts and circumstances of the present case, the present petition filed on behalf of the petitioner - state is dismissed and the orders dated January 14, 2015 and September 7, 2015 passed by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) and the Additional Session Judge are upheld.
Ramani had contested the revision petition filed by the police contending that she was owner of the property and there cannot be any dishonest intention to get the licence.