Defamation Cases: Delhi HC Quashes Proceedings Against Smriti Irani; But Allows Prosecution Of Sanjay Nirupam

Defamation Cases: Delhi HC Quashes Proceedings Against Smriti Irani; But Allows Prosecution Of Sanjay Nirupam

Delhi high court on Tuesday quashed the summons issued against BJP Leader and Union Minister Smriti Irani in a 'defamation case' filed by Congress Leader Sanjay Nirupam. However, the High Court allowed prosecution of Sanjay Nirupam in a case filed against him by the Union Minister.

The Delhi high court on Tuesday quashed the summons issued against BJP Leader and Union Minister Smriti Irani in a 'defamation case' filed by Congress Leader Sanjay Nirupam. However, the High Court allowed prosecution of Sanjay Nirupam in a case filed against him by the Union Minister.

Justice R.K.Gauba considered together the separate petitions filed by both the leaders seeking to quash the summons order by the Magistrate in the complaints filed against them. Both of them had filed the complaints aggrieved with the comments made by them against each other in the course of a Live TV debate in December 2012.

The Court observed that Irani was only trying to block the criticism leveled by the complainant against the performance of the political party to which she belongs and in that process questioned his credentials by referring to the history of he having switched loyalties. "The complainant took this as an affront and after mildly challenging her claim to be a political analyst shifted to comments which were designed to cause personal hurt bringing up her stint in the television programmes, challenging her values ("sanskar") and eventually questioning her "character" with innuendoes concerning her matrimony. It is in that context that the petitioner retorted by stating that this was frivolous conduct similar to the one reflected by gunda elements. She at no stage called him a "rapist" or a "molester" or an "eve teaser", neither directly nor indirectly. Her responses cannot be construed but as a caution to him to remain within the bounds of decency and civility.", the court said.

The Judge allowed Smriti Irani's plea against summoning her, observing thus: "Having regard to the chronology of events, it is clear that the criminal complaint leading to the summoning order against the petitioner was instituted by the second respondent in the counter-blast to the complaint of the former, there being no explanation offered for the delay. The continuance of such criminal prosecution on the basis of available material would be an abuse of the process of law."

Dismissing the congress leader's petition, the court said: "Suffice it to note and observe that the utterances include those seemingly going beyond verbal abuses, particularly the assertions vis-à-vis the personal life of the complainant touching upon the circumstances in which she had entered matrimony. The innuendo of such expressions does not prima facie (generally) require, particularly in the case of persons in public life, extrinsic facts to be pleaded or proved."

Curiously, in both the orders, the judge withheld the names of both the leaders. The judge said: "The petitioner and the second respondent have been in public life for quite long, engaged in active politics, they being associated with political parties that generally have been seen to be opposed to each other. In their interest, their names are being withheld from mention, including in the cause-title."