Tharoor’s ‘scorpion’ remark: Delhi HC grants stay, issues notice

Published: Oct 16, 2020, 2:04 pm IST

New Delhi:  The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed trial court proceedings in a defamation case filed by a BJP leader against Congress parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor over the latter’s ‘scorpion’ remark vis-a-vis Prime Minister Narendra Modi and issued notice.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait ordered the stay and issued the notice on Tharoor’s plea for quashing of the criminal defamation case filed by BJP leader Rajiv Babbar.

The plea was filed through advocate Gaurav Gupta and argued by senior advocates Kapil Sibbal and Vikas Pahwa.

In his plea, Tharoor challenged a trial court order to summon him for allegedly committing offences under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, pleading that the said order was “bad in law” and “against the principles of criminal jurisprudence”.

“… a fair comment or honest opinion cannot be considered as defamation or libel,” said the plea, adding that Tharoor did not make any false opinion or comments and rather only quoted a direct statement from an already published piece of journalistic work.

The said that the contention that Tharoor not only defamed Prime Minister Modi but also all people associated with him, including Babbar, was “far-fetched and quite an imagined idea of Babbar” as he was unable to show that the impugned statement had any relevance with respect to him.

In his defamation complaint, Babbar alleged that his religious sentiments were hurt by the Congress leader’s statement.

On October 28, 2018, Tharoor, quoting an unnamed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) source, launched a sharp attack on Modi and likened him to a scorpion sitting on a ‘Shivling’.

“There’s an extraordinarily striking metaphor expressed by an unnamed RSS source to a journalist, who expressed their frustration to curb Modi – ‘Modi is like a scorpion sitting on a Shivling’. You can’t remove him with your hand and you cannot hit it with a ‘chappal’ (slipper) either,” Tharoor said while speaking about his book ‘The Paradoxical Prime Minister’ at the Bengaluru Literature Festival.

Babbar claimed that Tharoor completely disregarded the sentiments of crores of Shiva devotees by insulting their religious beliefs and filed a complaint under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code.

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