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Magistrate Applied Mind While Initiating Defamation Proceedings'Against Kangana Ranaut On Javed Akhtar's Complaint : Bombay High Court

Sharmeen Hakim
9 Sep 2021 1:23 PM GMT
Magistrate Applied Mind While Initiating Defamation ProceedingsAgainst Kangana Ranaut On Javed Akhtars Complaint : Bombay High Court
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A procedural irregularity by the Metropolitan Magistrate while taking cognisance of the complainant cannot be a ground to quash proceedings, the Bombay High Court observed dismissing actor Kangana Ranaut plea in lyricist Javed Akhtar's defamation complaint. Justice Revati Mohite Dere refused relief to Ranaut, who filed a petition under Section 482 of CrPC and sought to quash...

A procedural irregularity by the Metropolitan Magistrate while taking cognisance of the complainant cannot be a ground to quash proceedings, the Bombay High Court observed dismissing actor Kangana Ranaut plea in lyricist Javed Akhtar's defamation complaint.

Justice Revati Mohite Dere refused relief to Ranaut, who filed a petition under Section 482 of CrPC and sought to quash the entire proceedings initiated by the Metropolitan Magistrate against her.

The court observed that the Metropolitan Magistrate had "applied his mind" and "considered all aspects" before issuing process and summoning Kangana to court under Section 204 of the CrPC for the offence of defamation under sections 499, 500 of the CrPC.

The order was a combined analysis of the verification statement of the complainant, averments in the complaint, the CD/pen-drive, police report and other documents on record Justice Dere said.

"The order issuing process reflects that the learned Magistrate saw the video of the defamatory statement displayed on the National News Channel, perused the complaint, statement on oath, supportive police report… and other material on record very minutely and carefully and after observing that all the aforesaid material furnishes a uniform assurance that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the applicant, proceeded to issue process against the applicant under Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC."

The court rejected Kangana's contention that merely because the Magistrate had mentioned "inquiry" and not "investigation" as permitted under section 202(1) of the CrPC while directing the police to look into Akhtar's complaint, the order was bad in law.

"It appears that the learned Magistrate has inadvertently mentioned `inquiry' instead of `investigation'... Nothing much turns on the incorrect nomenclature used by the learned Judge. It appears to be an inadvertent mistake," the court held.

Justice Dere further said that the Magistrate could not be faulted for not examining Akhtar's witnesses on oath before cognisance of the complaint. Under section 202 of the CrPc, only the complainant needed to be examined on oath. Witnesses were to only if they were present, the court said.

The court observed that during the investigation against Kangana, the police took witness signatures while recording their statement under Section 162 Cr.P.C. While this should not be done, the act would merely impair the value of the statement, not make the evidence of those witnesses inadmissible.

The court relied on the Privy Council's view in the case of Raleigh Investment Co. Ltd. vs. The Governor-General in Council – AIR (34) 1947 PC 78.

On July 27, the Magistrate exempted Ranaut from appearance in the defamation case as a 'last chance'. Metropolitan Magistrate RR Khan directed Ranaut's lawyer to ensure she is present on the next date, failing which Akhtar could apply for the issuance of a warrant against her. The matter before the Magistrate is likely to be taken up on September 14.

The Case

Akhtar has accused Ranaut of damaging his "immaculate reputation" by dragging his name in actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death in her interview with Republic TV Anchor Arnab Goswami, on July 19, 2020.

Akhtar claims that in an interview that lasts 57-minutes, Kangana is seen giving her opinion on the circumstances surrounding Rajput's death without any direct personal knowledge.

Akhtar filed a complaint for the offences punishable under Sections 499 and 500 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code in the Metropolitan Magistrate Court, in Andheri, in November 2020.

In his complaint, Akhtar said he is a self-made man, who reached Mumbai on October 4, 1964, with Rs 27, two pairs of clothes and a few books. He was 19 then.

In February, a Metropolitan Magistrate in Andheri recorded Akhtar's statement and ordered a police inquiry under section 202 of the CrPC. Following a report from the police, the court issued process and summoned Ranaut under Section 204 of the CrPC.

Before the sessions court, Kangana had challenged the Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate Court's order dated February 1. However, her petition was dismissed in April 2021.

Case Title: Kangana Ranaut v. The State of Maharashtra

Also Read: Breaking: Bombay High Court Dismisses Kangana Ranaut's Plea To Quash Defamation Case Proceedings Initiated By Javed Akhtar

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