HC extends stay on criminal defamation proceedings against Shashi Tharoor


PTI, Oct 21, 2021, 7:08 PM IST

The Delhi High Court Thursday extended an interim stay on criminal proceedings against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor in a defamation complaint about his alleged “scorpion on shivling” remarks referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Justice Mukta Gupta listed Tharoor’s plea, which has challenged the summons issued against him by the trial court on the complaint filed by BJP leader Rajiv Babbar, for hearing on February 23 and said “interim orders to continue”.

Lawyer Gaurav Gupta, appearing for Tharoor, said that the pleadings in the case were complete and the case may be listed for final hearing. Tharoor has sought setting aside of the trial court’s April 27, 2019 order by which he was summoned as accused in the criminal defamation complaint.

The plea has also sought quashing of the complaint dated November 2, 2018.

Last October, the court had issued notice on Tharoor’s plea and sought a response from Babbar while granting an interim stay on the proceedings before a trial court here.

Senior counsel Vikas Pahwa, appearing for Tharoor, had argued that the trial court’s order was bad in law and against the settled principles of criminal jurisprudence as it completely overlooked the fact that the complaint filed by Babbar was completely false and frivolous.

The criminal complaint was filed against Tharoor in the trial court by Babbar, who had claimed that his religious sentiments were hurt by the Congress leader’s statement.

In October 2018, Tharoor had claimed that an unnamed RSS leader had allegedly compared Prime Minister Modi to ”a scorpion sitting on a Shivling”. He termed it an ”extraordinarily striking metaphor”.

Tharoor was granted bail in the case in June last year by the trial court.

The complainant had said, ”I am a devotee of Lord Shiva… However, the accused (Tharoor) completely disregarded the sentiments of crores of Shiva devotees, (and) made the statement that hurt the sentiments of all Lord Shiva devotees, both in India and outside the country.” ”The complainant’s religious sentiments were hurt and the accused deliberately did this malicious act, intending to outrage the religious feelings of Lord Shiva devotees by insulting their religious belief,” the complaint had claimed.

It had also described Tharoor’s statement as ”intolerable abuse” and ”absolute vilification” of the faith of millions of people.

The complaint was filed under sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

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