Delhi HC stays trial court proceedings against Shashi Tharoor : Scorpion remark on PM Defamation Case

The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed the criminal proceedings against Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor in a defamation complaint over his alleged ‘scorpion on shivling’ remarks referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The stay order was passed by a single-judge Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait who heard the matter and issued notice to the complainant Delhi BJP leader Rajiv Babbar on the plea filed by Tharoor challenging the summons that was issued against him by the trial court in the defamation case. The High Court posted the matter on December 9 for further hearing.

Babbar stated that his religious sentiments were hurt by the Congress leader’s statement and thus the criminal complaint was registered against Shashi Tharoor. He also stated that he is a Shiva devotee and the statement made by Tharoor completely disregarded the sentiments of crores of Shiva devotees both inside and outside India.

He also argued that the accused deliberately did this malicious act, intending to outrage the religious feelings of Lord Shiva devotees by insulting their religious belief that affected the religious sentiments of many.

The plea was filed through advocate Gaurav Gupta and was argued by Senior Advocates Vikas Pahwa and Kapil Sibbal to set aside or quash the summon trial order dated 27 April 2019, that was passed by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Rouse Avenue District Courts.

 Reperesenting Shashi Tharoor, Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa submitted that the said complaint alleged that he was aggrieved by an alleged statement made by the petitioner on October 28, 2018, at Bangalore Literature Festival, against Narendra Modi.

The lawyers strongly argued that the trial court completely overlooked the fact that the complaint filed by the complainant Rajiv Babbar is completely frivolous and false and also stated that the order is bad in law and against the settled principles of criminal jurisprudence.

He also argued that the cause of action does not arise from a direct statement of the petitioner and added that rather complainant in his own complaint before the trial court had admitted to the fact that the statement in question had been in the public domain since the year 2012 and the petitioner was merely quoting a journalistic fact.

Tharoor had claimed that in October 2018 an unnamed RSS leader had allegedly compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “a scorpion sitting on a Shivling”. He termed this as an extraordinary striking metaphor.

Tharoor stated that he was merely quoting another person, Gordhan Zadaphia and also that he did not make any false comments or opinion and rather only quoted a direct statement from an already piece of journalistic work.

The complaint was filed by the complainant under Section 499 (Defamation) and Section 500(Punishment for defamation) of Indian Penal Code. He stated that the statements made by the accused was mala fide intention, intolerable abuse and absolute vilification of the faith of millions of Shiva devotees.

By Gopika Sasi