The Delhi High Court on Thursday set aside an order by a sessions court staying proceedings in a defamation case filed by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra against Zee News and its editor Sudhir Chaudhary, Bar and Bench reported. The order was passed by Justice Brijesh Sethi.

Moitra had filed the defamation complaint after Chaudhary accused her of plagiarism in her speech in Parliament on June 25. The Trinamool Congress leader had approached the High Court after the sessions court accepted Chaudhary’s plea to stay defamation proceedings. In her plea, filed on October 10, Moitra said that the sessions court should not have intervened in the defamation proceedings when they were at the pre-summoning stage.

Chaudhary’s lawyer had 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 had argued. In response, Moitra’s lawyers said that the sessions court should not have stayed proceedings against a “proposed accused”.

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.

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.

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