In a relief to French author Dominique Lapierre, the Supreme Court on Friday stayed the proceedings of a complaint filed by Madhya Pradesh Director General of Police, Swaraj Puri.
A bench comprising, Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P P Naolekar, issued notices to Puri and Javier Moro, the France-based publisher of the book - It was Five Past Midnight in Bhopal - on a plea by Lapierre and Delhi-based publisher Shekhar Malhotra, seeking transfer of the complaint case outside Madhya Pradesh.
In the petition before the apex court, they said Puri was holding a position in the state, by which he could influence the witnesses in the trial of the case.
"It will not be possible to have a just and fair trial and, as such, it would be in the interest of justice that the complaint is transferred to a competent court outside the state of Madhya Pradesh," the French author said.
Puri had filed a criminal complaint against Lapierre and Malhotra in a Jabalpur Court which had issued summons to the publisher to appear before it on September 26.
The DGP in his complaint had alleged that the French writer has not portrayed the incident and role of the police in the right perspective.
Besides, a civil complaint has also been filed by Puri seeking to restrain the publishers from printing, selling and circulating the book.
The Jabalpur Court had also issued notices to the author and publisher on a petition by the police officer demanding a compensation to the tune of 20 million dollars.