Lyricist Javed Akhtar on Friday opposed actor Kangana Ranaut’s plea seeking to have the defamation case he filed against her transferred to another court in Mumbai. Akhtar said that Ranaut’s transfer petition was only aimed at delaying proceedings in the case, Live Law reported.

The case is related to comments that Ranaut made about Akhtar during a television interview in July last year in relation to actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. Ranaut had reportedly said that Akhtar was part of a “suicide gang” and that “he can get away with pretty much anything in Mumbai”.

Akhtar filed a defamation case against Ranaut in November. Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate RR Khan has been hearing the matter.

However, last month, Ranaut approached the chief metropolitan magistrate at the Esplanade Court in Mumbai, saying that she had lost faith in Khan. The actor accused the Andheri metropolitan magistrate of being biased and sought transfer of the case to another court in Mumbai.

On Friday, Akhtar urged the chief judicial magistrate, who was hearing Ranaut’s plea, to dismiss the petition.

“The present transfer petition is devoid of all merits and is liable to be dismissed at the very threshold...[It] is only filed to delay the proceedings before the 10th MM[ Andheri metropolitan magistrate],” the lyricist’s lawyer Jay Bharadwaj argued, according to Live Law.

Bharadwaj also pointed out Ranaut’s “willful and deliberate absence” during a hearing of the case on September 14. On that day, the Andheri magistrate court had said it would issue a warrant against Ranaut if she did not appear in person for the next hearing.

Ranaut appeared for the next hearing on September 20, but filed the transfer petition and a counter complaint against Akhtar, accusing him of extortion and criminal intimidation. This was the first time Ranaut had appeared for a hearing in the case since she had been summoned by the court in February.

On Friday, Chief Judicial Magistrate Sayali Dande said that she wanted Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate RR Khan to respond to Ranaut’s plea saying she had lost faith on the judge.

The matter will next be heard on October 18.

Akhtar’s defamation case against Ranaut

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

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.

The High Court dismissed her petition on September 9.