A criminal defamation complaint has been filed against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor before a court for his alleged “scorpion” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In his complaint, Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rajeev Babbar alleged that Tharoor with “mala fide intention made the statement which is not only abuse of the Hindu deity but also defamatory”.
He said being a vice president of the Delhi state BJP, he was “identified as a worker/ supporter of Narendra Modi and BJP” and that Tharoor’s statement hurt his religious statement.
The complaint, filed through advocate Neeraj, termed the statement as “intolerable abuse” and “absolute vilification” of the faith of the people.
“The speech of the accused had lowered down the credit and image of the complainant. The complainant was hurt and anguished as the intentional, defamatory and mischievous statement of the accused has lowered the reputation of the complainant in the eyes of others present there,” the complaint said.
Tharoor stoked a controversy on Sunday while speaking at the Bangalore Literature Festival, claiming that an unnamed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader had compared Modi to “a scorpion sitting on a Shivling”.
“The said unknown remarks which were allegedly made in 2012 were of no consequence at that time but today with growing worldwide popularity of Modi and BJP, the accused has deliberately dug out that buried statement to quote and make it relevant in the present context,” the complaint said.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal Saturday listed the matter for consideration on November 16.
“Accused’s statement is not only false, rather an insult to all workers, supporters, the leaders... The accused had deliberately made the statement intending to harm, knowing and having reason to believe that such false statement will harm the reputation of the workers/supporters of Narendra Modi and BJP,” the complaint said.
Babbar said that Tharoor “deliberately did this malicious act, intending to outrage religious feeling of Lord Shiva devotees by insulting their religious believes”.
The complaint has been filed under sections 499 and 500 of IPC relating to defamation. If convicted, Tharoor may face a maximum punishment of two years in jail.
Criminal defamation charge against me frivolous: Tharoor
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Saturday termed the criminal defamation complaint filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party against him in a Delhi court as “frivolous” and alleged that it was an attempt to “throttle the freedom of expression”.
Reacting to it, Tharoor told reporters, “The charges are frivolous ... If we start to stifle the right of the people to quote published material then where would our democracy head ? Where is the freedom of expression?”
Asked whether he felt the criminal defamation suit against him “is an attempt to throttle his voice”, the Congress MP said, “Apparently it seems so”.
Tharoor said he had quoted an article published in a magazine in 2012 in which a comment of an unnamed Rashtriya Swamyamsevak Sangh leader had been mentioned. “So why has this defamation suit been filed against me now? In my book, I as a writer had quoted 5,000 other examples and stories,” he said.
“The fact is that environment of free expression, the liberty to quote what has been said at one time or another about prominent political personalities in a respectable publication (is not wrong). As far as I am concerned, if we start stifling the right of people to quote published material then where does our democracy head?” he said.
Tharoor said he did not believe that he had done anything wrong or out of the ordinary and any author would have felt free to quote such published material in writing.
“I have also quoted Mr Modi’s authorised biography by Andy Marino quite extensively. So it is not as if the 500-page book can be reduced to one line which this particular complainant doesn’t like,” Tharoor, also a writer and former diplomat, said.
“I am surprised to hear about the defamation suit. I hope the judge will throw it out on the grounds that this is the actual fact. But if not then certainly we have to defend it,” he asserted.