In a setback for actor Kangana Ranaut, a Bombay High Court bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by Ranaut challenging the criminal defamation proceedings issued against her by a magistrate court in Andheri after a suit was filed by lyricist Javed Akhtar.
Notably, Justice Mohite-Dere hasn’t stayed the proceedings, which would mean that the actress will now have to appear before the Andheri Magistrate on September 14 to get her statements recorded. After that is done, the magistrate would proceed with framing of charges, if any, and then the trial would commence.
Kangana, however, has planned to challenge this order before the Supreme Court.
Notably, Akhtar has sued Ranaut for allegedly calling him a “member of the suicide gang” and dragging his name in the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. He had filed a defamation suit against her before the Andheri magistrate, who, after scrutinising the material on record, issued criminal proceedings against her.
Accordingly, Ranaut had challenged the proceedings before Justice Mohite-Dere, claiming that the law wasn’t followed in the matter.
The bench had heard the submissions put forth by Ranaut through her counsel Rizwan Siddiqui and Akhtar through his advocate Jay Bharadwaj.
Siddiqui said, “The magistrate erred in considering the statements of witnesses recorded by the police. Instead, the magistrate should have had recorded the statements and not the police.”
“Neither the magistrate nor the police recorded the statements of my witnesses. So, I can say it is a one-sided enquiry,” he added.
The submissions were, however, vehemently opposed by Akhtar through advocate Bharadwaj, who said, “It is incorrect to say that the police didn’t record statements of all the witnesses. The Juhu police had, in fact, summoned all the persons concerned in the case.”
“Even she (Kangana) was summoned but for reasons best known to her, she didn’t appear before the police,” Bharadwaj said.
Having heard the contentions, the bench noted that the magistrate, while issuing process had considered the video of the defamatory statement displayed on the National News Channel, the complaint (by Akhtar), his statement on oath, supportive police report and other material on record.
“All the material furnishes a uniform assurance that there is sufficient grounds for proceeding against Kangana under Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC. Thus, the magistrate was not swayed only by the police report, but had considered all the aspects, before exercising his discretion to issue process,” Justice Mohite-Dere said in her orders.
“Thus, no ground is made out for interfering or quashing the proceedings on the basis of alleged procedural irregularity/illegality adopted by the magistrate whilst taking cognizance of the complaint. The order issuing process reflects application of mind and hence, warrants no interference,” the bench said.