Court slaps Azhar with a Rs. 15 lakh fine

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New Delhi:
Congress MP Mohd Azharuddin was on Wednesday, slapped a cost of Rs. 15
lakh by a Delhi court for showing "utter disdain" to it by not appearing
before court in a cheque bounce case and "wasting its time."

Metropolitan
Magistrate (MM) Vikrant Vaid, who had earlier issued non-bailable warrants
(NBWs) against the cricketer-turned-politician for his failure to appear
before him in the case, imposed the cost after being informed that
Azharuddin had amicably arrived at an out-of-court settlement.





"If settlement had to be done, it could have been done on the first date
itself," the court said while taking strict view on the conduct of the Lok
Sabha MP from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh.

"As the accused
(Azharuddin) showed utter disdain to the court and wasted its time and did
not appear (before it) for this reason, I do not find any reason why the
court should not impose the cost," the judge said.

The court also
imposed a penalty of Rs. 1 lakh on one of his friend, who had earlier
submitted a bond and surety to ensure Azharuddin's appearance in the case,
but failed to do so.

The complainant Sanjay Solanki, a
Delhi-based businessman, had earlier alleged that Azhar wanted to sell his
Mumbai-based property worth around Rs. 4.5 crore, jointly owned by him and
his wife.

He approached Azhar to purchase the property and the
deal was finalised after which Solanki paid Rs. 1.5 crore in advance to
Azhar but after some time, due to some marital dispute, Azhar refused to
sell the property and agreed to pay back the money to Solanki but his
cheques issued to Solanki were dishonoured.

As the hearing of the
case began, the counsel for Azharuddin as well as the complainant informed
the court that they had amicably settled the dispute for an "undisclosed
amount".

The judge while imposing the cost, referred to a Supreme
Court judgement which held that a magistrate has discretion to impose a
cost of 10 per cent of the amount of bounced cheque, if he was satisfied
that the accused had wasted court's time.

The court ordered
Azharuddin to deposit the amount with the Delhi Legal Services Authority
within one months time.

The judge also allowed the plea of
advocate Firoz Khan Gazi and Gazanfar Ali Khan, who appeared for
Azharuddin, for cancellation of non-bailable warrants earlier issued by
court.

The court had earlier given ten dates for hearing between
January 19 to March 3 and had also imposed a cost of Rs. 20 thousand twice
on Azharuddin for his non-appearance.

His counsel had sought
exemption from personal appearance in the case contending that Azharuddin
was busy in poll campaigning for the UP assembly elections.

They
said Azharuddin was not avoiding appearance before the court deliberately
as he had not volunteered to be in the list of campaigners which was
prepared by the Congress party.

"Azharuddin is the star
campaigner of the Indian National Congress party, which is already
notified to the Election Commission also and is still under command to
perform and participate in the said campaign, which makes the applicant as
one of the essential persons in the entire process," his counsel had said.

The
magistrate had, however, said the court has nothing to do with the fact
that Azharrudin was the star campaigner of his party and had issued non
bailable warrants against him.

"This (being the star campaigner)
is between you and the party. The court has nothing to do with it," the
court had said dismissing his plea for personal exemption.

The
magistrate had said that Azharuddin was "deliberately" avoiding appearance
in the case.





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