Bhopal court stays arrest warrant against Uma in defamation case
A Bhopal court stayed the execution of a non-bailable arrest warrant against Union minister Uma Bharti in a 13-year-old defamation case filed by senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, hours after a lower court had issued it on Thursday.
Additional district and sessions judge Ram Kumar Chaube stayed the arrest warrant issued by the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) court, while hearing a revision petition by Bharti’s counsel Harish Mehta.
Through the revision petition Mehta sought a stay on the CJM order and submitted that his plea for exempting his client from personal appearance in court had been rejected.
There were Supreme Court guidelines providing for such exemptions and recording of statements of the accused through their counsel, Mehta told HT.
Earlier in the day, CJM Bhu Bhaskar Yadav issued the arrest warrant against Bharti for not appearing before it to record her statement as accused in the 2003 defamation case, despite repeated directives by the court since October 2015.
Observing that since the accused is a Union minister and low-ranked officials would dither from arresting her, the court directed that the warrant be issued for execution through the senior superintendent police (SSP).
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 was 13 years old, the proceedings in it cannot be stayed merely on the wish of either of the parties.
The court ordered the SSP to execute the warrant and ensure her appearance before the court on October 19.
Mehta had moved two applications before the CJM court seeking exemption for Bharti from personal appearance in the court for examination of the accused in the case. The court, however, rejected both applications and observed that sympathy to the minister would amount to failure of the legal system.
During the last hearing in the case on February 5, the court had directed both Bharti and Singh to be present before it for a possible mediation on March 8.
In November 2003, Singh, the then Madhya Pradesh chief minister, had filed the defamation case against the then Bhopal MP Bharti for levelling “false allegations” of him being involved in a `15,000-crore scam.
In the run-up to the 2003 assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP leader had alleged that Singh had business relationship with Subhash Gupta, to whom valuable land worth crores of rupees had been allotted for pittance at the behest of then CM. Bharti had alleged that Singh had travelled with Gupta aboard many times. She had gone on to dub Singh as the most corrupt chief minister in the country.