A court in Bhopal issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against union minister Uma Bharti on Thursday for not appearing before it in a defamation case filed against her by Congress national general secretary Digvijay Singh in 2003.
Taking serious note of the minister’s non-appearance before the court for recording of her statement as accused for around a year, Bhopal chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Bhubhaskar Yadav issued the arrest warrant.
Stating that since the accused is a cabinet minister, lower-ranked officials would dither from arresting her, the court directed that the warrant be executed through the senior superintendent of police (SSP).
While rejecting the plea of Bharti’s counsel for review of the order and interim stay on the execution of warrant for seven days, the CJM court held that “since the case is 13 years old, proceedings cannot be stayed merely on the wish of either of the parties.”
The CJM subsequently quashed the review application and ordered issuance of the arrest warrant on Thursday itself and ensure her appearance before the court on October 19, 2016.
Earlier, union minister’s counsel Harish Mehta had moved two applications seeking Bharti’s exemption from personal appearance in the court for examination as the accused in the case on the grounds that she is often busy with emergency meeting as a cabinet minister.
He had also submitted before the court that she had to chair the meeting of senior officials on Thursday to decide the government’s response before another court in the Cauvery water dispute, owing to which she should be exempted from personal appearance and instead be allowed to respond to questions in the case through her counsel.
The court, however, rejected both applications and observed that sympathy to the minister would amount to failure of the legal system.
In November 2003, then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh had filed a defamation case against then Bhopal MP Uma Bharti for leveling “false allegations” of him being involved in a Rs 15,000 crores scam. She had termed Singh as most corrupt CM of India.