A court in Mumbai on Tuesday said that it will issue a warrant against actor Kangana Ranaut if she does not appear in person for the next hearing on September 20 in a defamation case filed by lyricist Javed Akhtar, Bar and Bench reported.

The remarks were made as the court allowed the actor exemption for a day from physically appearing in the case.

Akhtar had filed the defamation case against Ranaut in November for the remarks she made about him during a TV interview while speaking about actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

Ranaut had reportedly told Republic TV 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”.

Lawyer Rizwan Siddiqui, appearing for Ranaut, told the court on Tuesday that the actor had been promoting her film for the last two weeks and has developed symptoms of Covid-19. He also submitted a medical certificate before the court, PTI reported.

Akhtar’s lawyer, Jay Bharadwaj, however, described the submissions as a tactic to delay the proceedings. The lawyer added that Ranaut has cited multiple reasons for not appearing before the court since the summons were issued to her in February.

Bharadwaj also said that no higher court has granted protection to Ranaut, or ordered stopped the proceedings against her. The lawyer also pointed out that Akhtar has appeared before the court on every date of hearing.

Following the arguments of Akhtar’s counsel, Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate RR Khan said that an arrest warrant would be issued against Ranaut if she failed to attend the next hearing.

In an earlier hearing, the magistrate had said that a bailable warrant would be issued against the actor if she does not appear before the court, according to Bar and Bench.

The case

Akhtar has accused Ranaut of causing “irreparable damage” to his reputation through her statements on Republic TV. “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.

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 subsequently 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.

On September 9, the Bombay High Court dismissed her petition to quash the defamation proceedings initiated against her by Akhtar.