L -Kangana Ranaut, R- Javed Akhtar
L -Kangana Ranaut, R- Javed Akhtar
Photo by ANI

Mumbai: An Andheri magistrate court on Monday issued a bailable warrant against actor Kangana Ranaut after she failed to remain present before it despite having been summoned last month, in connection with a criminal defamation complaint filed against her by lyricist Javed Akhtar, saying that her absence “shows her conduct”.

Magistrate RR Khan ordered issuance of bailable warrant of Rs 1,000 against Kangana for “wilful absence without any justified reasons despite service of summons”. The court also noted that no exemption plea had been filed by her for her absence. Akhtar’s advocate Vrinda Grover, through an application had sought that a non-bailable warrant be issued against Kangana. This, Magistrate Khan found, would be a ‘harsh step’ considering the nature of the litigation.

Appearing for Kangana, her advocate Rizwan Siddiquee argued that he would be challenging the entire proceeding as the witnesses mentioned in Akhtar’s complaint had not been verified on oath. He further argued that the court could not proceed further, as cognizance taken by the court was not as per law.

In this regard, the court said that no doubt, the accused had every right to challenge its order before the sessions court and high court, but the question arose whether the intent to challenge it before a higher forum would result in automatic stay on the proceeding. “The answer is certainly in the negative. Though the accused is going to challenge the entire proceeding before Hon’ble High Court...however in absence of any orders from higher courts, her remaining absent despite receipt of summons shows her conduct,” the court said.

It stated further that the mere intent to challenge the proceedings would not absolve her of her liability as an accused to attend this court. It also noted that she had had the option to file an exemption application for the absence, but did not opt for the same.

Magistrate Khan said that since she has “voluntarily remained absent without any justified reasons despite service of summons” and did not even file any exemption application, therefore, as per law, issuance of bailable warrant of Rs 1,000 would be justified.

In his complaint filed in November last year, Akhtar had stated that Kangana had made comments in an interview to Republic TV on 20 July, 2020, wherein she had called him part of a certain 'gang' in the context of the death case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Akhtar had complained about the social media trolling he had to face as a result of her allegations in the interview.

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