Delhi High Court has refused to stay the defamation proceedings pending before the Rouse Avenue Court pertaining to the criminal defamation case filed by Zee Media's Editor Sudhir Chaudhary against Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra.
The order has come in a plea moved by Member of Parliament from Trinamool Congress, Mahua Moitra, seeking the quashing of a summoning order passed by the trial court in a defamation case filed against her by Zee Media.
While observing that a criminal reference concerning this matter is pending before a Division Bench of this court, the Single Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru noted that it's unlikely that the trial court will commence the recording of evidence before the said reference is taken up the High Court.
Filed by Mahua Moitra, the present petition seeks quashing of the summoning order dated 25/09/19 passed by an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in a criminal defamation case filed against her by Zee Media.
Ms Moitra has also challenged the order dated 10/01/20 whereby the ACMM had framed notice against her by noting that a Magistrate does not have power to discharge an accused in a summons triable case.
In addition to this, the petition has also asked the court to exercise its powers under Article 227 of the Constitution to issue practice directions to the subordinate courts in relation to exercise of powers under Section 251 of the Criminal Procedure Code to discharge an accused in a summons triable case instituted on a complaint.
While claiming that the said order was passed by the Magistrate without even providing proper hearing to the Petitioner, a set of following questions of law has been presented before the court:
- Whether a Magistrate seized of a complaint case that contains offences that are in the nature of "summons triable cases", has the power to discharge an Accused under Section 251 of the CrPC;
- Whether a Magistrate is to act as a post box upon appearance by a person summoned, and to simpliciter frame notice under Section 251 CrPC, irrespective of the reason placed by such person upon appearance?
- Whether a Complainant in a defamation case can claim defamation in respect of utterances made while being hounded and abused continuously?
- Whether the right of self defence exists in a case of defamation?
It is argued by the Petitioner that the court did not consider the fact that the statements made by the Petitioner were in the form of a fair retort to the constant haranguing by the reporters of Zee Media.
The said controversy pertains to the speech given by Moitra on the floor of the Parliament wherein she had highlighted early signs of fascism. Sudhir Choudhary from Zee Media claimed in his show that Moitra's parliamentary speech was plagiarised.