Defamation Case: Madhya Pradesh HC Stays Bailable Warrant against Ex-CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Ors

Shivraj Singh Chouhan

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has stayed a special court’s order for the issuance of bailable warrants against former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state BJP president V D Sharma in a criminal defamation case.

The court observed that the two leaders, who are currently contesting in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, are heavily occupied with campaign activities.

A special court had recently ordered bailable warrants against Chouhan and Sharma for their failure to provide “undertakings” in the criminal defamation case filed by Congress’ Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha.

Sharma is seeking re-election from the Khajuraho parliamentary constituency, while Chouhan has been nominated by the BJP from Vidisha.

A single bench of Justice Sanjay Dwivedi, in an interim order, stated, “As an interim measure, the impugned orders dated March 22 and April 2 are directed to be stayed and it is also directed that warrants as directed to be issued against the petitioners shall not be issued till the next date of hearing.”

The High Court justified the stay, considering the ongoing election commitments of the petitioners.

In their plea challenging the special court’s order, petitioners Sharma, Chouhan, and ex-minister Bhupendra Singh emphasized their seniority within the ruling party and their preoccupation with election-related obligations.

Senior Advocate RN Singh, representing the petitioners, argued that the complaint against his clients was politically motivated and aimed at damaging their political careers.

The court acknowledged the petitioners’ respect towards court orders and their commitment to comply with directives.

Further, the court recognized the petitioners’ election engagements as a valid reason for seeking relief from personal appearances in court.

Earlier, the special court had exempted Sharma, Chouhan, and Singh from personal appearance in the case until June 7. However, bailable warrants were later issued on April 2 due to their failure to provide “undertakings”.

The nature of these undertakings remained unclear, prompting the BJP leaders’ lawyer, Shyam Vishwakarma, to seek clarification from the court.

On January 19 last year, the special court had initiated a defamation suit against the BJP leaders based on prima facie evidence, following a complaint by Congress leader Tankha.

Tankha alleged that the BJP leaders had defamed him by falsely implicating him in a Supreme Court case concerning the OBC quota in the 2021 Panchayat elections in the state.

Additionally, Tankha has filed a civil defamation suit against Sharma, Chouhan, and Singh, seeking damages of Rs 10 crore.

Recommended For You

About the Author: Nunnem Gangte