Moitra-Chaudhary Defamation Battle moves the Delhi High Court

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Earlier this year in June, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra filed a case of criminal defamation at Patiala House Court against Zee News and its Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary. The matter relates to a speech given by Moitra in the Parliament on June 25, Zee News alleged that it was plagiarised. The allegations on Zee and Chaudhary is that he ran a broadcast stating that Mahua Moitra had plagiarised her “hate-filled speech” delivered in Parliament, as stated in the court by Moitra’s counsel. The broadcast run by Zee suggested that the speech was plagiarised from an article by Martin Longman on US President Donald Trump, alleging that the view expressed by Moitra in the parliament were not her own rather “copy-pasted” from the said article.

Speech on early signs of fascism:

Before approaching the court, Moitra had also submitted against Chaudhary a motion for breach of privilege motion. However, Moitra’s motion was rejected by the sitting Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. On the question of plagiarism, the counsel had earlier rebutted saying that her speech was inspired by a holocaust poster in a United States museum, containing 14 signs of early fascism. It was the same which she reproduced in the Parliament. Moreover, it is her contention that she had clearly attributed to the source of the speech and mentioned that it were taken from the said poster. The said case of defamation has been said to be ‘false’ by Chaudhary. He has also approached the courts to initiate a criminal action against Moitra under Section 340 CrPC for ‘playing fraud’ with the court by filing a ‘false’ defamation suit. The case has been pending since.

Meanwhile, Chaudhary also approached the courts by filing an application under Section 340 CrPC to initiate criminal action against Moitra for her “false” criminal defamation case and for “playing fraud” with the court. This case is currently pending.

Life Cycle of the case:

The first cognizance of the complaint was taken up by Metropolitan Magistrate Preeti Parewa. On the date of taking cognizance, she listed the matter for July 20, for recording of Moitra’s. While the metropolitan magistrate  had posted the case for orders on the issue of summons, the proceedings were previously stayed by the court of additional sessions Judge Rakesh Syal, as preferred by Sudhir. In retaliation to the stay, the recent development in the case is that Moitra has moved the Delhi high court challenging the stay of defamation proceedings against Zee News editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhary.

The stay order resulted from Sudhir and his counsel raising objections before the sessions court, regarding the procedure followed by the metropolitan magistrate, who had originally taken cognizance in the said matter. He considered that the metropolitan magistrate had proceeded with the defamation case without hearing his application under Section 340 filed by him against Moitra. Moreover, the advocate appearing for Chaudhary also contended that Chaudhary had moved an application seeking perjury action against the MP for allegedly concealing relevant facts in her defamation complaint. It was for the aforementioned two reasons that the Sessions court had stayed the proceeding before the metropolitan magistrate.

The Verdict

The recent challenge by Moitra, to the stay order passed by the sessions judge has now come before the Delhi High Court. The contention Moitra is trying to put across is that there was a lack of power on the part of the session’s court to have passed an order of stay against a pre-summoning proceedings under a revision jurisdiction.

Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan is appearing for Moitra in the said matter. His contention also revolves around the fact that the order challenged before the sessions court was an order which had deferred further hearing on Chaudhary’s application under .Section 340 against Moitra. Moitra’s lawyers preferred a writ of certiorari arguing that the high court had the power to deal with instances of erroneous jurisdiction. Asvocate Mudit Jain appearing for Chaudhary in the said matter is preferring the argument that the writ petition wasn’t applicable and the application preferred by Chaudhary under Section 340 should have been decided before any other proceedings in the matter. The High Court then directed Chaudhary to file his response to the petition before October 14 and the matter has been freshly listed for further hearing on October 18 before the Additional Sessions Court.

 

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