The Court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court Complex today framed notice against Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra in Zee Media Corporation Ltd’s criminal defamation case against her.
Judge Vishal Pahuja thus dismissed Moitra plea seeking discharge in the case before framing of notice against her.
The Court held that an accused cannot be heard at the stage of framing of notice u/s 251 Cr.PC as a matter of right. It thus ordered,
"Let a formal notice be served upon the accused. Notice u/s 251 Cr.PC has been served upon the accused to which she plead not guilty and claim trial."
Zee News had moved the Court against Mahua Moitra after she allegedly called Zee News ‘chor’ (thief) and paid news.
Moitra was granted bail in the case after she appeared before Judge Pahuja pursuant to the summons issued against her. Moitra had then objected to the framing of notice in the case and sought discharge in the case.
She had contended that there was no a prima facie case of defamation in the present matter and thus the Court should discharge her before framing of notice in terms of Section 251 CrPC.
Relying on a series of judgments, it was submitted that a Court could not act like a post office and thus, it could not frame notice in a summons case in a mechanical manner.
Zee Media, on the other hand, had opposed the discharge of Moitra at this stage on the ground that no specific provisions of law provided for the same.
It was argued that unlike the High Courts and the Supreme Court, the magistrate court did not have the power to pass any order in the interest of justice and was instead strictly bound by the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Since the legislature had intentionally not provided for a specific provision for the discharge of an accused in a summons case, unlike in sessions triable cases and warrant cases, it was not open for him to seek discharge after issuance of summons and prior to framing of notice in a summons case.
After hearing the parties at length, the Court had reserved its order on point of framing of notice in December last month.
Zee Media is being represented by Advocate Vijay Aggarwal. Moitra is being represented by Advocate Shadan Farasat and Aditya S Pujari.
The matter would be heard next on February 18.
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