Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut has approached the Bombay High Court seeking to quash the criminal defamation complaint filed by film personality and noted lyricist Javed Akhtar against her.
Akhtar had filed the criminal defamation complaint against Ranaut over her statement made to the Republic TV linking him to the death of film actor Sushant Singh Rajput. In February 2021, Metropolitan Magistrate at Andheri had issued summons to Ranaut in Akhtar's complaint.
In the petition filed on behalf of Ranaut under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it is stated that the Magistrate issued summons in the criminal complaint on the basis of witness statements collected through a police inquiry.
The petition assails the process of inquiry ordered by the Magistrate under Section 202 of the CrPC as unsustainable in law.
The petition filed through Advocate Rizwan Siddiquee contends that the Magistrate, instead of using his own powers to conduct an inquiry, "used the police machinery to collect the signed witness statement, as and by way of inquiry conducted by a police officer, which is completely unheard of".
It is argued that the witness statements so collected the police are hit by the bar under Section 162 CrPC on being acted upon as evidence. However, the Magistrate issued summons relying on the same witness statements despite the bar under Section 162 CrPC.
"The Ld. Metropolitan Magistrate of 10th Court, Andheri also failed to appreciate the fact that to protect and secure the rights and interests of the proposed accused, he was duty bound to examine the Complainant and the Witnesses named in the Complaint on oath as per Sections 200 further read with 202(2) of CrPC, instead of simply directing Senior Inspector of Juhu Police Station to conduct any inquiry on his behalf and thereby illegally collecting signed statement of the Witnesses in contravention of Section 162 of CrPC", the application says.
Arguing that the Magistrate "failed to apply his judicial mind", and thereby failed to protect the rights of the accused, the petition seeks to quash the entire proceedings pursuant to the criminal complaint filed by Akhtar.
In April, a Sessions Court in Mumbai had rejected the revision petition filed by Ranaut against the Magistrate's summoning order.
In his complaint, Akhtar says 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.
"The complainant is one of the most senior artists in the film industry with his successful career spanning over more than 55 years, which in itself is a rare achievement. Apart from this, he was also nominated as a member of Rajya Sabha during the period March 2010 to March 2016," the plea stated about Akhtar's reputation.
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. His plea further stated that the defamatory statements were made against him during this interview.