Actor Kangana Ranaut appeared before a Mumbai court today over a criminal defamation complaint filed by lyricist and former Rajya Sabha MP Javed Akhtar, who has alleged that she had made defamatory comments about him during a TV interview in November last year.
The veteran lyricist was also at the Metropolitan Magistrate’s court in Mumbai’s Andheri, where Ms Ranaut arrived accompanied by her CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) security entourage.
Ms Ranaut had been originally called to last week but stayed away, citing ill health; she was warned at then that failure to be present at today’s hearing would lead to the issue of a warrant.
The court marked Ms Ranaut’s attendance and then postponed the hearing till October 1.
Ms Ranaut has also filed a transfer application, which will be heard November 15.
At the previous hearing on September 14 – when Ms Ranaut had sought exemption after having “developed COVID-19 symptoms” – Mr Akhtar’s lawyer had declared her request an “orchestrated tactic to delay the case proceedings”, according to news agency PTI.
Earlier this month her request to cancel the defamation suit was rejected by the Bombay High Court.
Her lawyer, Rizwan Siddique, had argued that the Metropolitan Magistrate had “mechanically ordered the enquiry” against his client “without assigning (any) reasons”.
He also claimed that Mr Akhtar’s witnesses had not been examined under oath.
Javed Akhtar’s lawyer, Jay Bharadwaj, sought dismissal of the plea, saying that “the magistrate had applied his mind to direct an inquiry after examining Akhtar’s complaint”.
After hearing both sides Justice Revati Mohite-Dere said she found no procedural illegalities or irregularities in the magistrate court’s order initiating the proceedings.
Javed Akhtar has claimed Kangana Ranaut dragged in his name while referring to a Bollywood ‘coterie’; her comments were in the aftermath of the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June last year, which triggered massive controversy and led to probes by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate, as well as investigations into alleged drug use in the film industry.
With input from PTI