The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition by actor Kangana Ranaut to quash the defamation proceedings initiated against her on a complaint by lyricist Javed Akhtar, reported Live Law. The High Court had reserved its order in Ranaut’s plea on September 1.
Akhtar had filed the defamation case against Ranaut in November for the remarks she made about him during a TV interview while speaking on actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
Ranaut had reportedly told Republic TV’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami that Akhtar was part of a “suicide gang” and that “he can get away with pretty much anything in Mumbai”.
Akhtar had accused Ranaut of causing “irreparable damage” to his reputation. “Each and every allegation and imputation made in the said interview is false, defamatory, malicious, and has been made with reckless disregard to the truth,” he had said in his complaint.
In December, the Andheri metropolitan magistrate’s court had directed the police to investigate Akhtar’s complaint against Ranaut.
Ranaut moved a sessions court against the order issued by the Andheri magistrate asking her to appear before it in connection with the defamation case. The session’s court had dismissed her plea to quash the magistrate court’s order.
On March 1, the magistrate’s court issued a bailable warrant against Ranaut after she failed to appear before it in person. However, it granted her bail in the case later that month.
The actor had then filed a plea before the Bombay High Court seeking to quash all the proceedings arising out of Akhtar’s complaint, including the defamation suit and subsequent summons.
During Thursday’s hearing, advocate Rizwan Siddiquee, appearing for Ranaut, argued that the Andheri metropolitan magistrate had mechanically ordered the inquiry against her without assigning any reasons for it. Siddique also said that the magistrate had not examined the four witnesses cited by Akhtar.
The advocate also argued that Akhtar did not provide any material evidence in support of his complaint, reported Bar and Bench. He said that evidence was brought on record by a third party.
Advocate Jay Bharadwaj, appearing for Akhtar, said that the magistrate did apply his mind when passing the order to initiate an inquiry after examining the lyricist’s complaint under Section 202 of the Criminal Code of Procedure.
Bhardwaj said the judge could have either conducted an inquiry himself, ordered a police officer to do so, or asked a third party under the provisions of the law. The advocate said that the judge chose to order the police to conduct an inquiry.
Bhardwaj argued that the magistrate’s court was not required to examine the witnesses cited by Akhtar. He also contended that since Ranaut failed to appear before the police to present her version in the case, she cannot accuse the force of a biased inquiry.
The plea is filed with the sole intent to delay the trial, he added.