Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has filed a criminal defamation case against Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for calling him an “accused in a case of murder”.
The defamation suit comes months after Tharoor had sent a legal noticeto Prasad seeking an “unconditional apology” for his remarks in connection with Sunanda Pushkar’s death.
Prasad made the remarks after Tharoor quoted an unnamed RSS source as saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was like a “scorpion sitting on a Shivling who cannot be removed by hand or hit with a chappal (slipper)”. Prasad tweeted that, “Tharoor who is accused in a murder case has attempted to disrespect Lord Shiva.”
Thereafter, Tharoor sent a legal notice to minister stating that “You are hereby called upon to tender an unconditional and written apology within 48 hours of the receipt of this notice for making such an untrue, false and baseless imputation against Shashi Tharoor… to avoid the consequences of a litigation.”
However, Prasad refused to apologise saying “there arises no question of any apology or deleting of the tweet”.
The complaint filed on December 7, 2018, in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate of Thiruvananthapuram states that, “A perusal of the Impugned post/tweet with the video clip and the statements, makes it abundantly clear that, the accused has purposefully lied to the public with the culpable and malicious intention to defame the complainant and thereby to spread an untrue, false and scandalous imputation against the complainant that he is an accused in a case of “murder” and that he has been charge-sheeted for the offence of “murder”. Both as a member of the general public who is aware of the current affairs of the country and also as a person who holds the very esteemed post of the Union Law Minister for India, the accused must be well aware that the complainant is not charge-sheeted by Police and he is not an accused in a case of murder.”
In the complaint, Tharoor also pointed out that the case against him is not of murder punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, but that of offences under Sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 498A (husband subjecting woman to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Raising questions on Mr. Prasad’s intention behind posting the clip, the complaint states that, “All the defamatory statements and video published by the accused was with the culpable intention to malign the image of the complainant and fully knowing that those are baseless and untrue and with a heinous intention to malign and lower the reputation of the complainant among the General Public.
The accused, being an eminent lawyer and a designated Senior Advocate with the Supreme Court of India knew very well that whatever he has stated are incorrect and defamatory to the complainant. However those allegations were made maliciously and with ulterior motive to lower the credit and esteem of the complainant among the General Public.”
Taking the above facts into consideration, the complaint finally alleges that the acts of the accused person constitute the commission of an offence under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which is punishable under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.