13 years after judge’s death, ex-pilot in the dock over threat calls

Thirteen years after the death of a former Bombay High Court judge, the court is likely to frame charges against an ex-pilot accused of criminally intimidating him and his family over a property tussle.

Author:  Sharmeen Hakim Indorewala Source: Mumbai Mirror

Following a complaint made by Justice Bakhtavar Lentin — who served in the Bombay High Court from 1975 to 1989 — his son Jamshed approached the court a year after his death in 2001. The court had then ordered that a First Information Report (FIR) be registered against ex-pilot Pheroze Dastur, booking him for criminal intimidation and intentional insult to provoke breach.

However, the case dragged on for more than a decade. Justice Lentin was particularly known for the his report on the drug related deaths in J J group of hospitals.

On Thursday, while rejecting Dastur’s discharge application, the magistrate’s court gave him time till October 28 to approach the HC for relief, failing which, charges were likely to be framed against him on that day. The Supreme Court had earlier ordered expedition of the matter.

According to the FIR, Justice Lentin and two others were the executors of the will of a woman called Piloo Ghaswala who had two daughters. While half of the estate was given to the older daughter, the other half was kept for Ghaswala’s granddaughter (the child of her younger daughter Layla) in a trust. This was done because she had alleged that Layla was suffering from fits of depression.

The FIR alleges that Layla and her boyfriend Dastur, had threatened Justice Lentin to transfer the granddaughter’s property to Layla’s name.

From January 22, 1995, Dastur kept calling up our residence day and night where he made false, reckless, obscene and abusive allegations with threats of dire consequences. Due to this, my father rendered his resignation as executor of the will. The telephone harassment continued till May 1996, where he threatened to kill me and my son with the help of his clout. We have recorded a few of these conversations: reads the FIR.

In a letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Police in 1996, Justice Lentin wrote, "I write to you in desperation. It is in connection with allegations against my family by Pheroze Dastur. He has been harassing us for a year."

Last year, Dastur approached HC and SC, both of whom dismissed his petition. In its order dated March 1, 2013 the Supreme Court ordered expedition of the trial and charges to be framed within 6 months.

While filing for discharge earlier this year, Dastur had alleged malpractice and bungling of court documents. He also said that there was no reason for him to make the threat calls.

Dastur’s advocate Ahmed Abdi argued that the complaint was devoid of any merit and that there had been a delay of 5 years in registration of the FIR.

Public Prosecutor Kiran Bendbhar, argued that the application was filed after a delay of 12 years after being rejected by HC and SC and the accused was fully aware that there was substantial evidence against him. The prosecution also questioned how the accused had access to probe documents.

"We are waiting for a copy of the order, after which we will either approach the Sessions or the High Court," Dastur’s counsel Ahmed Abdi told Mirror. When Mirror contacted Jamshed, he declined to comment as the matter was sub-judice.