New Delhi: In a major relief to Bollywood filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar  Supreme Court on Monday stayed the criminal proceedings against him in connection with the alleged rape charges by Preeti Jain.

A bench of justices H L Dattu and C K Prasad issued notices and sought replies from the Maharashtra government and the actress on a petition by Bhandarkar for quashing the case against him.

Bhandarkar has moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court's order directing him earlier this year to face the trial in the case.

In July 2004, the actress had lodged a complaint alleging that Bhandarkar had raped her several times between 1999 and 2004 under the pretext of marrying her and casting her as actress in his movies.

The police had filed two ‘B’ summary reports (which means they consider it false or malicious information) in 2007 and 2009 but a local court had rejected both of them.

A Mumbai trial court last year had found substance in Jain's complaint and had asked the national award-winning filmmaker to face the trial.  Bhandarkar had challenged the lower court's order before the high court which too had rejected his plea. In September 2011, the police had filed a report stating that the case against Bhandarkar was false.

The trial court, however, had rejected the police report which had said the case was 'maliciously false.' The court had held that there was prima facie case against Bhandarkar.

The three-time National Award-winning filmmaker is known for his issue-based movies like ‘Chandni Bar’, ‘Page 3’,’Traffic Signal’ and ‘Fashion.’

JPN/Agencies