The HRD Minister has been asked to appear before the court on September 27 in a criminal defamation complaint filed by Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam.

Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani was on Friday summoned as an accused by a Delhi court in a criminal defamation complaint filed by Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam.

Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) Dheeraj Mittal issued the summons against Ms. Irani asking her to appear before it on September 27.

Mr. Nirupam, a former Congress MP, had filed the complaint against Ms. Irani alleging that on December 20, 2012, when Assembly election results of Gujarat were announced, the BJP leader had made “defamatory and scurrilous comments” against him during a TV debate.

“That the accused (Ms. Irani), a Member of Parliament of the BJP defamed the complainant by making direct aspersions on the character of the complainant (Mr. Nirupam),” the complaint, filed through advocate R.K. Handoo, said.

“The complainant’s (Mr. Nirupam) reputation of excellence and integrity has been dented due to the scurrilous, defamatory and derogatory comments made by accused during the said debate,” it alleged.

Earlier, Ms. Irani had also filed the defamation complaint against Mr. Nirupam for allegedly defaming her during the same debate on the news channel and the court had framed charges against him for allegedly using derogatory and indecent language against her.

Mr. Nirupam, in his complaint, alleged that Ms. Irani had also made derogatory comments against him intentionally and knowing fully well that these “utterances are defamatory against the complainant”.

“The complainant is paying heavily in terms of loss to his reputation and political career apart from the mental agony and torture caused to the complainant for the scurrilous and defamatory comments and allegations made by the accused (Ms. Irani),” it claimed.

Mr. Nirupam said that he had sent a legal notice to Ms. Irani through his counsel on July 25, last year, asking her to tender an “unconditional public apology” for allegedly making defamatory comments against him, but she did not reply to it.

On Ms. Irani’s complaint, the court had put Mr. Nirupam on trial under sections 500 (defamation) and 509 (uttering any word or making any gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC.

If convicted, section 500 of the IPC entails a simple imprisonment for two years or fine or both. Section 509 of IPC carries a simple jail term of one year or fine or both.

Ms. Irani, a Rajya Sabha member, had claimed in her complaint that Mr. Nirupam had allegedly questioned her credentials to analyse poll results given her background as a TV actress.

Mr. Nirupam had allegedly made the remarks on December 20, 2012 during a debate on Gujarat Assembly election results on a private news channel.

Ms. Irani had also recorded her statement before the court in connection with her complaint in which she had given details of the alleged derogatory remarks made by Mr. Nirupam.

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