Delhi HC sets aside stay in Mahua Moitra’s defamation case against Zee’s Head Honcho

Delhi High Court set aside order staying proceedings in TMC MP Mahua Moitra’s criminal defamation case against Zee News Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary today.

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Image Courtesy: Bar & Bench

Moitra filed the case before a Metropolitan Magistrate at Patiala House, New Delhi on July 15, after Chaudhary alleged that the MP’s maiden parliamentary speechwas plagiarised.(See here)

She Said, He Said

Mahua Moitra, of the opposition Trinamool Congress Party (TMC), said she had seen a list of the early warning signs of fascism on a poster in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in the US.

On June 25, Moitra had made a passionate speech before the parliament on the ‘Seven Signs of Fascism’. It was inspired by a poster she came across at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum which contained a list of the 14 early warning signs of fascism.In her speech, Moitra applied seven of the signs to India and attributed this original source to her speech.

Moitra’s speech immediately gained considerable internet traction and was lauded on social media. (See here and here.)

Zee News anchor Sudhir Choudhary alleged on national television in the network’s “DNA Test” segment that Moitra had plagiarised the speech from anarticle by American commentator Martin Longman on the American President Donald Trump.The Wire reported that Chaudhary had broadcast a programme saying Moitra’s speech was plagiarised from Longman’s article, and that Moitra’s views were not her own but only were “copy-pasted” from this article.

Chaudharyalso tweeted this at the time of covering the story:

It reads, “This is the website article that Trinamool Congress Member MahuaMoitra stole to use in her speech. She used the exact same wording of the article, verbatim. The integrity of the Legislature is in danger.”

On Twitter, Longman rejected the claim that the Trinamool MP had plagiarised his work, stating “I’m internet famous in India because a politician is being falsely accused of plagiarizing me. It’s kind of funny, but right-wing a******s seem to be similar in every country.”

As the controversy grabbed public attention, multiple sources fact-checked Chaudhary’s claims and concluded them to be false. (See this, this, this, and this.)

Legal on-goings

On July 15, Moitra filed her defamation case against Chaudhary and Zee News.At the time of filing, Moitra had stated in a public statement, “I have immense respect for freedom of speech, as guaranteed under the Constitution, but I also fear tremendously the power of fake news. … In this day and age of 24*7 news channels, without proper fact-checking, and spring-boarding of such broadcasts in the minds of the general public, it is all the more important that individuals who make statements that are false to their knowledge, be brought to book.”

Moitra has also moved a motion in parliament against Zee News and Chaudhary for a breach of parliamentary privilege. The Hindu reported that Speaker Om Birla disallowed the motion when the MP named the channel and the editor, the speaker did not allow it because the journalist was not a member of the house.

Chaudhary raised objections to the case on the ground that the Metropolitan Magistrate proceeded with the defamation case without hearing the application that he had filed against Moitra. He had initiated criminal action against Moitra under Section 340CrPC for her “false” criminal defamation case and for “playing fraud” with the court. The application also contended that the Moitra’s writ petition was not maintainable since its prayer would require the High Court to extendits limited power in the exercise of the writ of certiorari.

Subsequently, the Additional Sessions Court heard Chaudhary’s application and stayed the proceedings before the Metropolitan Magistrate. Aggrieved by the stay, Moitra had moved the High Court, where she argued that the order of the Sessions Court was erroneous as it had no power to stall pre-summoning proceedings under revision jurisdiction.

  1. MahuaMoitra files defamation case against Zee News anchor
  2. ‘BJP has ‘lust to divide’, says Trinamool MP MahuaMoitra in a fiery maiden speech in Parliament
  3. GauharRaza slaps notice on Zee News, Seeks Compensation and Apology




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