Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday sent a legal notice to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for his statement last week referring to the Congress leader as “an accused in a murder case”.
Tharoor said Prasad’s comments were “false, malicious and defamatory”. “When India’s law minister falsely invents a murder case against a political opponent, what hope for justice and democracy?” Tharoor asked on Twitter.
On October 28, Tharoor, quoting from a news article from 2012, referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “scorpion sitting on a Shivling [idol of Hindu god Shiv]”. “There’s an extraordinarily striking metaphor” with which an RSS member expresses the organisation’s frustration with its “inability to curb Modi”, Tharoor had claimed. He then cited the RSS functionary as saying: “Modi is like a scorpion sitting on a Shivling, you cannot remove him with your hand and you cannot hit it with a chappal either.”
Later that day at a press conference, Prasad sought an apology from Congress President Rahul Gandhi. The BJP leader said he would not like to comment on the remarks made by Tharoor, who “is chargesheeted in a serious allegation of murder”.
The law minister then shared a video of the press conference on Twitter, captioning it, “Shashi Tharoor who is accused in a murder case has attempted to disrespect Lord Shiva. I seek a reply from Rahul Gandhi who claims himself to be a Bhakt of Lord Shiva on this horrific denunciation of Hindu gods by a Congress MP. Rahul Gandhi must apologise to all Hindus.”
Tharoor has been charged under sections 498A (husband or his relative subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code for the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar. The matter is being heard in a court in Delhi.
In his legal notice, Tharoor alleged that Prasad had deliberately lied to the public with “culpable malicious intention” to defame him. The legal notice said Prasad was aware that Tharoor had neither been chargesheeted for murder nor is he an accused in a murder case. “The scandalous and false and defamatory statements you have published against Dr Shashi Tharoor are explicitly intended to harm the reputation of Tharoor and to malign him before the public by intentionally giving your false and untrue statements the colour of your office,” the notice read.
Tharoor, who represents Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram in Parliament, demanded an unconditional written apology from Prasad within 48 hours of the receipt of the notice. The notice called upon the Union minister to delete the tweet along with the video clip of the press conference.