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HC Reserves Verdict in Kangana Ranaut’s Plea Against Javed Akhtar’s Case

Javed Akhtar had filed a defamation case against Kangana Ranaut in 2020.

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Javed Akhtar filed a defamation case against Kangana Ranaut.</p></div>
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The Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, reserved its verdict in the plea filed by Kangana Ranaut to quash the defamation complaint made by lyricist Javed Akhtar in 2020. Ranaut’s plea challenged the criminal defamation proceedings initiated against her by a Magistrate Court this year.

Akhtar alleged that Ranaut had made defamatory statements “in what appears to be a clear campaign to malign and tarnish him in the eyes of the general public”. He accused her of ‘maligning his reputation’ by bringing his name up during an interview on Republic TV after the demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

A single-judge bench of Revati Mohiti-Dere said that there are two things to be considered- if the Magistrate can order an ‘inquiry’ under the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) and if the Magistrate’s actions were ‘mechanical’.

Ranaut’s counsel Rizwaan Siddique argued, during the hearing, that the Magistrate orders to the police to conduct an inquiry were ‘mechanical’ and no reasons were assigned. The proceedings against Ranaut began in February and the actor received a bailable warrant in March. The actor was later granted bail.

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Advocate Siddique added that the Magistrate was ‘duty bound’ to investigate the complaint’s veracity. Ranaut’s July plea filed in the HC said that the Magistrate should have examined Akhtar and the witnesses mentioned in his complaint.

Advocate Siddique said, “The magistrate has to be master of investigation himself and record reasons, and cannot just pass orders mechanically. No material evidence was brought on record by the complainant and material was brought by a third party and the same was not examined on oath. However, the magistrate relied on it. He was duty bound to determine veracity of the complaint.”

Advocate Jay Bharadwaj, representing Javed Akhtar, opposed the plea arguing that the Magistrate followed due procedure. Bharadwaj added that the Magistrate did summon all people involved to conduct an ‘impartial inquiry’ but Kangana Ranaut didn’t appear in court.

The Court has reserved its judgment and it is likely to be pronounced on 9 September.

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