Ranaut said in her plea the lower court did not independently examine the complainant or witnesses named in the complaint against her, but it instead relied merely upon the discretion of the Juhu police and initiated the case against her.
On Wednesday, Siddiquee told a single bench presided over by Justice Revati Mohite-Dere that the police inquiry into Akhtar’s complaint was “one-sided.”
“My witnesses were never examined. The magistrate should have ensured that no party is harassed,” Siddiquee told the HC.
Akhtar’s counsel Jay Bharadwaj, however, told the bench that the magistrate had ordered the police inquiry after going through Akhtar’s complaint and excerpts of the interview in which Ranaut had made the alleged defamatory comments.
He further said the police had summoned witnesses and concerned persons, including Ranaut, to ensure its inquiry was impartial, but the actor never responded to the summons.
Akhtar filed a criminal complaint against Ranaut in November last year before the Andheri metropolitan magistrate for allegedly making defamatory and baseless comments against him in a television interview.
In December 2020, the court directed the Juhu police to conduct an inquiry into Akhtar’s complaint. The police subsequently informed the court that an offence of defamation, as alleged by Akhtar against the actor, was prima facie made out, and further probe into the same was required.
The court accordingly, initiated criminal proceedings against Ranaut and issued summons to her in February this year.
As per section 202 of the CrPC, a magistrate, on receipt of a complaint of an offence of which he or she is authorised to take cognisance of, can inquire, or direct the police to see if an actual case is made out, before issuing summons to an accused person.
The high court is likely to pass an order on Ranaut’s plea on September 9.