Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Thursday challenged in the Delhi High Court a sessions court order staying proceedings in a defamation complaint filed by her against Zee News and its editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhary, PTI reported. Moitra had filed the defamation case after Chaudhary accused her of plagiarism in her June 25 speech in Parliament.

Moitra, in her plea on Thursday, said that the sessions court should not have intervened in the defamation proceedings when they were at the pre-summoning stage.

Chaudhary’s lawyer opposed Moitra’s plea, alleging that it was not maintainable. He said Chaudhary had moved a plea seeking perjury action against the MP for allegedly concealing relevant facts in her defamation complaint. That is why the sessions court stayed the defamation proceedings, the lawyer argued.

In return, Moitra’s lawyers said that the sessions court should not have stayed proceedings against a “proposed accused”. They said Chaudhary had first filed his plea at the magistrate’s court where the defamation case was being heard. But the magistrate’s court adjourned the hearings and the plea to another date, following which Chaudhary appealed in the sessions court.

The High Court asked Chaudhary’s lawyer to submit his reply to Moitra’s plea by October 14, and said it will deliver the verdict on October 18.

The speech

In her Lok Sabha speech on June 25, which went viral on social media, Moitra had listed “seven signs of fascism”. It was a scathing critique of the Narendra Modi government. A few days later, some of her detractors claimed that she had lifted parts of her speech from a Washington Monthly article from January 2017, written by journalist Martin Longman. The piece, titled “The 12 early warning signs of fascism”, was written in the context of American politics and the election of Donald Trump as president. Longman had written that the signs were listed in the US Holocaust Museum, an attribution Moitra also made in her speech.

Zee TV editor Chaudhary had tweeted the original article to claim that Moitra’s speech was plagiarised. “This is the article from the American website which Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra copied/plagiarised in her speech,” he had said. “She has lifted the words directly from the article. The honour of a Parliamentarian is in danger.”

Moitra dismissed the allegations and said the speech came “from the heart” and blamed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s “troll army” for propagating the charges to shield actual problems. Longman himself said the plagiarism allegation was false.