TAMIL NADU

Two defamation proceedings against Suhasini stayed

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI : Two separate defamation proceedings initiated against actor Suhasini Manirathnam in the judicial magistrate courts at Erode and Kattumannarkoil have been stayed by the Madras High Court.

Passing orders on a petition from the actor seeking to quash the proceedings, Justice T.V. Masilamani granted interim stay of all further proceedings in the judicial magistrate courts besides dispensing with her personal appearance.

Ms. Suhasini said she had received summons from three courts so far, including one from Tiruchengode. Though she was given to understand that similar private complaints seeking to punish her for her "defamatory remarks" had been filed in Chennai and other places as well, she was yet to receive summonses in those cases, she added.

Pointing out that the summonses issued by the Erode and Kattumannarkoil courts violated Section 204 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, she said neither a copy of the complaint nor the list of witnesses was enclosed with the summons.

"The provision is not a matter of procedure but a substantive right of the accused to know what he or she is facing in a private complaint," she submitted.

The Erode court had "erroneously" rejected her counsel's application for a certified copy of the complaint on the ground that she had not yet appeared before the court for personal hearing, she said adding "the presumption of the court that unless a party appears in person, no copy of the complaint can be given is wholly opposed to law."

She prayed for a stay on all defamation proceedings and for dispensing with her personal appearance in courts besides quashing the November 16 summons of the Erode court and November 21 summons of the Kattumannarkoil court.