A court in Mumbai on Monday issued a bailable warrant against actor Kangana Ranaut after she failed to appear before it in connection with the criminal defamation complaint filed by lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar, Bar and Bench reported.
The Andheri metropolitan magistrate’s court had summoned Ranaut a month ago after a report submitted by the Juhu Police said that the alleged offences against her require further investigation. In November, Akhtar had filed the defamation case. While speaking about the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Ranaut reportedly told Republic TV’s 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”.
During Monday’s hearing, advocate Vrinda Grover, representing Akhtar, cited the actor’s tweet about the court summons to show that she was aware of the case and yet failed to file an exemption application, according to Live Law.
Advocate Rizwan Siddiquee, appearing for Ranaut, told the court that the procedure to examine the witnesses stipulated under Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was not followed in the case. He argued that therefore issuing summons was “bad in law”, adding that Ranaut will be challenging this in the High Court.
Contesting Siddiquee’s submission, Grover said, “It is the accused’s right to appeal against the order, or even challenge the proceedings. That no one can deny, and no one can stop, not even this court. However she failed to comply with the order of this court and I do not see any stay obtained from a Higher Court.”
Akhtar’s counsel sought issuance of non-bailable warrant against Ranaut. Metropolitan Magistrate RR Khan issued a bailable warrant against her and posted the matter for next hearing on March 22.
“You are at liberty to challenge the order [issue of process and summons] but that cannot absolve you from appearance here,” Khan told Siddiquee.
In his complaint, Akhtar said that Ranaut’s comments about him in connection with Rajput’s death had caused “irreparable damage”. “Each and every allegation and imputation made in the said interview against the complainant is false, defamatory, malicious, and has been made with reckless disregard to the truth,” it added.
He said that Ranaut’s interview has been watched by millions of people on YouTube and said the actor benefited by making comments against him. It was also covered by other news organisations like The Times of India, ABP Live and led to increased viewership, Akhtar argued.
Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai apartment on June 14, in what the police initially said appeared to be a case of suicide. After his death, an acrimonious back-and-forth had started between Ranaut and the Shiv Sena led-Maharashtra government.
The actor had criticised the handling of the Rajput’s death case by the Mumbai Police and said she didn’t feel safe in the city. The matter escalated when she compared Mumbai to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The Centre provided Ranaut Y-Plus security cover amid the fracas.