March 2, 2021 2:35:50 am
A METROPOLITAN magistrate’s court on Monday issued a bailable warrant against actor Kangana Ranaut, after she failed to appear before it in response to summons issued to her last month on a defamation complaint filed by poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar.
The court had, on February 1, issued process against Ranaut for offences punishable under IPC sections 499 and 500 pertaining to defamation, observing that there were sufficient grounds made against her. She was directed to respond to the summons issued on March 1. The court issued a bailable warrant stating that no justified reason was given for her absence.
The actor’s lawyer, Rizwan Siddiqui, submitted before the court that he wanted to challenge the proceedings claiming that the mandatory compliance for issuing summons in such cases was not done by the court.
“Though the accused is going to challenge the entire proceedings before the Honourable High Court, as stated by her advocate, however in absence of any higher courts, her remaining absent despite of receipt of summons shows her conduct,” the court said on Monday. It added that merely intending to challenge the proceedings does not absolve her liability as an accused from attending the court hearing. While a non-bailable warrant was sought by Akhtar’s lawyer against Ranaut, the court said that it would be a “harsh step” and instead issued a bailable warrant of Rs 1000 which can be cancelled once she appears before the court.
As per law, Ranaut can either challenge the court’s order summoning her or appear before it and deny the charges made against her. The court can then proceed with the trial and Akhtar will have to step into the witness box to depose and face cross examination by Ranaut.
Last month, the court had recorded Akhtar’s statement, following a private complaint filed by him. Akhtar had the court that Ranaut had made defamatory statements on national and international television, “in what appears to be a clear campaign to malign and tarnish the reputation of the complainant (Akhtar) in the eyes of the general public.” He had said in his complaint he had contributed to the Indian film industry and had also been honoured with state honours like Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. He had said he was shocked to learn that on July 19, Ranaut had given an interview to a TV channel falsely attributing statements to him where Ranaut had also given her opinion on circumstances around the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput “without appearing to have any direct personal knowledge of the circumstances around his death”.
The Juhu police, which was directed by the court to conduct an inquiry, submitted a detailed report to the court as well. The court had considered Akhtar’s statement made on oath before it and other material, including the TV interview and the police report, while deciding to summon Ranaut.
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