The Calcutta high court on Monday ordered a six-week stay on the arrest warrant issued against Babul Supriyo in connection with a complaint filed against him by Trinamool Congress MLA Mahua Moitra that the Union minister had “insulted her modesty” on a television channel.
On March 10, the Alipore chief judicial magistrate (CJM) issued a warrant against Supriyo after the police submitted a chargesheet against and showed the singer-turned-politician as ‘absconding’. The Bharatiya Janata Party legislator had approached the high court after a bailable arrest warrant was issued against him by a lower court.
Supriyo’s lawyers argued in high court the minister made the remarks during a debate on a TV channel and that “requisite mens rea or the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing was patently absent” while claiming “the alleged imputation had been made beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the learned magistrate” of Alipore court.
“Let the matter be listed after four weeks under the heading “Contested Application,” Calcutta high court justice Joymalya Bagchi said in his order.
“There shall be a stay of proceedings of the C. G. R. Case No. 62/2017 under section 509 of the Indian Penal Code pending before the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Alipore for a period of six weeks or until further order whichever is earlier,” justice Bagchi wrote.
Following the order on Monday, Supriyo said that he would have readily apologised had Moitra personally expressed her grievances to him.
“I approached the high court because it was too much of her to file a police complaint and for the police to submit a chargesheet against me for making a remark during a debate on a national TV channel. Had she expressed her grievances to me personally, I would have readily apologised,” Supriyo told TV channels on Monday.
“Hon’ble High Court has passed an Interim Order STAYING the Lower Court’s order for 6 weeks. Wil fight Vendetta Politics of TMC legally,” he later tweeted.
Moitra lodged the complaint against Supriyo at Alipore police station on January 4, a day after the minister reportedly asked her during the debate, “Mahua, are you on mahua (traditional country liquor consumed in tribal belts)? ”. The Trinamool Congress legislator took offence as the minister linked her name to the traditional liquor.
“I asserted right from the beginning that I have full faith in the judicial system and that law will take its own course,” Moitra told Hindustan Times.
Kolkata Police sent three notices to Supriyo, asking him to appear before them but he never turned up. On March 10, the police filed a chargesheet against Supriyo declaring him an absconder.
The Alipore CJM court then issued an arrest warrant against the Union minister of state for heavy industries and public enterprises.
Earlier, Supriyo described Moitra’s police complaint as ‘childish’ and shot back with legal notices against her as well as Trinamool MPs Sougata Roy and Tapas Pal for dragging his name into the Rose Valley chit fund scam.
The verbal battle between Supriyo and Moitra came following the arrest of Trinamool MPs Sudip Bandopadhyay and Pal in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund scam.
Trinamool Congress leaders, including chief minister Mamata Banerjee, raised questions why the CBI had not questioned or arrested Supriyo for his proximity with the arrested Rose Valley chief.