Delhi court stays bailable warrant against Tharoor

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. (PTI file photo)

A Delhi court Wednesday stayed the bailable warrant issued against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor for not appearing in a criminal defamation complaint, while directing him to be present before it on December 12.

The court had on November 12 issued the warrant against Tharoor after he did not appear before it, nor was he represented by a lawyer, in the complaint filed against him over his alleged 'scorpion on Shivling' remarks referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The court on Wednesday stayed the warrant after an application was moved by his lawyer seeking exemption for the day.

"Exemption application moved on behalf of accused. Submissions heard. In view of the submissions made and the grounds for the exemption as prayed in the exemption application, I deem it appropriate to allow the exemption application.

"Accused is exempted from personal appearance for today only. The exemption application stands disposed of accordingly. Matter is adjourned for hearing on the point of notice/ framing of notice...on December 12, 2019. Bailable warrants issued against the accused are stayed till the next date of hearing. Accused is directed to appear in person on the next date of hearing," the judge said.

Referring to the non-appearance of Tharoor and his counsel, the court had said that it was taking a "lenient view". It had issued bailable warrants against the accused with a sum of Rs 5,000 and notice to his surety for today.

The court had also imposed a fine of Rs 500 on the complainant, Delhi BJP leader Rajiv Babbar, who also did not appear before the court. However, Babbar was represented by a junior counsel.

The court was hearing a criminal complaint filed against Tharoor by Babbar, who had said his religious sentiments were hurt by the Congress leader's statement.

In October last year, Tharoor had claimed that an unnamed RSS leader had compared Prime Minister Modi to "a scorpion sitting on a Shivling". He termed it an "extraordinarily striking metaphor".

Tharoor was granted bail in the case in June on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 after he appeared before the court and moved an application.

The complaint was filed under sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

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