New Delhi: Delhi High Court today exempted Union HRD minister Smriti Irani from personal appearance in a criminal defamation case filed by Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam.
Justice Suresh Kait issued notice to Nirupam on Irani's plea, who also sough quashing of the summon issued to her by a trial court on June 6, 2014. She has also sought quashing of the complaint filed by Nirupam.
"Petitioner (Irani) exempted from appearing in the trial court. Notice issued to the complainant (Sanjay Nirupam is the complainant before the trial court)," the court said.
The court has fixed the matter for August 13 for hearing arguments on the plea filed by Irani.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh and advocate Anil Soni, appearing for Irani, today contended before the high court that "the respondent (Nirupam) had filed a counter complaint against Irani after ten months having summoned in my (Irani) defamation case against him (Nirupam)."
In the present case, Nirupam, a former Congress MP, had filed the complaint against Irani alleging that on December 20, 2012, when assembly election results of Gujarat were announced, the BJP leader had made "defamatory and scurrilous comments" against him during a TV debate "by making direct aspersions on the character of the complainant (Nirupam)."
Nirupam had said that he had sent a legal notice to Irani through his counsel on July 25 last year asking her to tender an "unconditional public apology" for allegedly making defamatory comments against him but she did not reply to it.
Earlier, Irani had also filed a defamation complaint against Nirupam for allegedly defaming her during the same debate on the private news channel and the court had framed charges against him for allegedly using derogatory and indecent language against her.
On Irani's complaint, the court had put Nirupam on trial under sections 500 (defamation) and 509 (uttering any word or making any gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC.
If convicted, section 500 of the IPC entails a simple imprisonment for two years or fine or both. Section 509 of IPC carries a simple jail term of one year or fine or both.
Irani, a Rajya Sabha member, had claimed in her complaint that Nirupam had allegedly questioned her credentials to analyse poll results given her background as a TV actress.