Delhi HC quashes summons against Smriti Irani in defamation case

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Updated: December 19, 2018 2:00:26 PM

She had also sought quashing of the complaint filed by Nirupam.

In her plea, Irani had sought quashing of the summons issued to her by a trial court on June 6, 2014.

The Delhi High Court Wednesday quashed the summons issued against Union minister Smriti Irani in a defamation complaint filed against her by Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam. The court, however, dismissed a similar plea by Nirupam’s seeking to set aside the summons issued against him in a cross-defamation complaint filed by Irani. The court said the case against Nirupam will continue. Justice R K Gauba passed two separate verdicts on the plea of the two leaders.

In her plea, Irani had sought quashing of the summons issued to her by a trial court on June 6, 2014. She had also sought quashing of the complaint filed by Nirupam. Nirupam had challenged a magisterial court’s March 11, 2013 order summoning him in Irani’s defamation complaint against him. He had also sought quashing of the January 1, 2013 complaint filed by Irani. The court did not mention the actual names of Irani and Nirupam in the judgment and cause list. While Irani was referred as ‘PQR’ in the judgment, Nirupam was addressed as ‘XYZ’.

“The petitioner and the second respondent have been in public life for quite long, engaged in active politics and associated with the political parties that generally have been seen to be opposed to each other. In their interest, their names have been withheld from mention, including in the cause-title,” the judge said in the opening paragraph of both the judgements. The high court had reserved its orders on November 13. It had earlier advised both the leaders to arrive at a compromise with regard to the defamation cases they have filed against each other.

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Nirupam, a former Congress MP, had filed the complaint against Irani, alleging that on December 20, 2012, when the Gujarat Assembly poll results were announced, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader had made “defamatory and scurrilous comments” against him during a television debate “by making direct aspersions on the character of the complainant (Nirupam)”. Nirupam had said he had sent a legal notice to Irani through his counsel, asking her to tender an “unconditional public apology” for allegedly making defamatory comments, but she did not reply to it.

Earlier, Irani had filed a complaint against Nirupam for allegedly defaming her during the same debate on a private television news channel and the court had framed charges against the Congress leader for using derogatory and indecent language against the Union Textiles minister.

On Irani’s complaint, the court had put Nirupam on trial under Sections 500 — defamation and 509 — uttering any word or making any gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman — of the Indian Penal Code. Irani had alleged in her complaint that Nirupam had questioned her credentials to analyse poll results given her background as a television actress.

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