MUMBAI: Courts or judicial authorities in India can take cognisance of conviction of an Indian by a foreign court for an offence committed outside India, the Bombay High Court has said.
However, such a conviction will not be automatically binding upon the courts or authorities in India while they are exercising their judicial powers. They must use their discretion on the effects of the same, a three-judge bench of the Bombay High Court has ruled.
The bench comprising of Justices BR Gavai, KR Sriram, and BP Colabawalla passed the judgment on Thursday while hearing a question referred to them by a division bench in 2013. The division bench had encountered the question while dealing with a petition filed by Prabodh Mehta, trustee of multi-speciality Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai.
Mehta was removed from the post of the trustee following an order of Joint Charity Commissioner (JCC) on the complaint of Mehta’s relative and trustee Charuben.
In March 2013, the JCC had acted on the grounds that Mehta had been convicted for an offence of moral turpitude in Belgium. The City Civil Court too upheld the JCC’s ruling based on Mehta’s conviction by a court in Belgium.
Mehta, however, filed an appeal in the High Court, saying that he had subsequently been pardoned by the court in Belgium and thus, his criminal record stood erased. He had further argued that his conviction by the foreign court had nothing to do with his capacity as the trustee of the hospital, and thus, should not have affected his job.
While the division bench held at that time that the nature of the crime committed by Mehta in Belgium could not be ignored by a country like India since its own laws on the subject were also very stringent, it referred the essential question of such cognisance and its binding effect to the larger bench.
The bench referred to several previous judgements of the Supreme Court on the subject and concluded the matter.