The Supreme Court on Monday quashed a criminal case against India's limited overs cricket captain MS Dhoni for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by portraying himself as Lord Vishnu on the cover of a business magazine.
The bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi provided relief to Dhoni, holding that the procedure contemplated for initiating such a criminal case was not complied with.
"We interfere with the order of the High Courtand quash the proceedings including the summoning order against the accused... We have taken note of the complaint and the offence alleged while passing this order" the bench said.
The petitioner had filed the criminal case alleging that depicting Dhoni as Lord Vishnu in commercial context has hurt the sentiments of the people. The complaint was filed by social activist Jayakumar Hiremath.
On the said cover, Dhoni is seen as Lord Vishnu, holding several things, including a shoe in his hands.
In September last year, Dhoni had moved the Supreme Court against Karnataka High Court order.
The High Court had then said, "These celebrities are only signing ads without any responsibility. Their aim is to earn easy money without considering the problems it may create."
Taking cognisance of the complaint filed by Hiremath, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) had registered a case against Dhoni under section 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) along with 34 of the IPC. Later, the ACMM had issued summons to Dhoni to appear before the court, which he did not and instead moved the High Court against its direction.
Later in the month, the Supreme Court had stayed the criminal proceedings against Dhoni. He had filed the Special Leave Petition challenging the Karnataka HC order.
The bench, which clubbed the plea of Dhoni with another petition on the similar issue, has also issued notice to the person who had lodged a criminal complaint against cricketer in a Bengaluru trial court.
The quashing of the criminal case will come as a relief to India's limited overs captain.
With inputs from agencies