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Cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni has added himself to the long list of celebrities to approach the highest court of the country. He has moved the Supreme Court in the controversy pertaining to a picture in Business Today which portrayed him as Lord Vishnu.
In a petition filed in the Supreme Court through advocate Liz Mathew, Dhoni has assailed the order of the Karnataka High Court whereby the High Court had refused to quash the criminal proceedings pending against him before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) at Bengaluru.
The controversy has its origins in an article published in Business Today on April 14, 2013 which allegedly carried a picture of Dhoni as Lord Vishnu. Criminal complaints under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were filed in different parts of the country alleging that Dhoni had hurt religious sentiments, and had also insulted and defamed members of Hindu religion. Most cases filed in different parts of the country were dismissed.
However, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Bengaluru took cognizance of a complaint before him and initiated proceedings. Dhoni then approached the Bangalore High Court to quash the proceedings under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. But the High Court refused to entertain his case and directed him to approach the revision court under Section 397 of the CrPC. Dhoni has challenged this judgment of the High Court in the present SLP.
He has taken various grounds in the petition. One of his main contentions is that no court can take cognizance of an offence under Section 295A of IPC except with the previous sanction of the concerned Government under Section 196 (1) of CrPC. Dhoni has contended that no such sanction was obtained in the instant case and yet the CMM proceeded to take cognizance of the complaint.
Dhoni has also contended that he is not guilty of the offence under Section 295A since he was not even aware of the publication of his image in the said manner. He has submitted that neither did he pose for such an image nor was his permission sought prior to its publication. He has, therefore, contended that there is no mens rea attributable to him and thus, he cannot be held responsible for hurting the religious sentiments of any individual.
Arguing that the entire complaint is frivolous and concocted merely to harass him, Dhoni has prayed for a stay on the High Court judgment as well as the criminal proceedings pending against him before the CMM till the matter is finally decided.
The case is listed for September 14 before a Bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice RK Agarwal as item 21.