In a further attempt to soothe her ego, TMC leader Mahua Moitra has filed a criminal case of defamation against Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhary. The case relates to her maiden speech on 7 signs fascism in the Lok Sabha. Sudhir Chaudhary is however unperturbed with the case and has confidently told her so on Twitter.
On 25th July, Mahua Moitra had delivered a speech targeted at the current government, listing out 7 signs of fascism which India was threatened with. However, later allegations emerged that Mahua may have plagiarised the speech from an article published in Washington monthly. The article titled “The 12 early warning signs of fascism”, listed out the signs with respect to the Trump government. The article lists 12 signs of fascism, 7 of which were taken in by Mahua Moitra in her speech.
Sudhir Chaudhary, in his broadcast, has mentioned this very article and stated, “This is the article from the American website which Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra copied/plagiarised in her speech.”
देखें, महुआ मोइत्रा के भाषण का DNA टेस्ट, भाषण को लेकर रिसर्च में सामने आई चौंकाने वाली बात @sudhirchaudhary #DNA pic.twitter.com/CULVX3BXWi
— Zee News Hindi (@ZeeNewsHindi) July 2, 2019
Earlier Mahua Moitra had also submitted a breach of privilege motion in the Lok Sabha against Sudhir Chaudhary. Given the fact that she had no valid basis of doing so, Speaker Om Birla refused to accept her motion.
Now, Mahua Moitra has filed a criminal case of defamation against the journalist. However, Sudhir Chaudhary, given the strong and principled journalist that he is, is anything but deterred. In an effort to show Mahua Moitra the right place of leaders who attempt to influence the media, he confidently tweeted, “1st she brought a privilege motion against me in Parliament. Now she’s filed a criminal defamation case against me in court. All because I questioned her speech which, by the way, was about respecting the voice of dissent. Who’s trying to curb it? Who’s being a fascist?”
1st she brought a privilege motion against me in Parliament. Now she’s filed a criminal defamation case against me in court. All because I questioned her speech which,by the way,was about respecting the voice of dissent.Who’s trying to curb it?Who’s being a fascist? #FancyFascism https://t.co/yD4QttSUUK
— Sudhir Chaudhary (@sudhirchaudhary) July 15, 2019
By filing a case of criminal defamation against Sudhir Chaudhary, Moitra is clearly trying to intimidate the independent media. The constitution of India recognizes the qualified privilege to the journalists. Under section 499 of the IPC, the very same section under which Moitra filed her case, an exception for public good is enumerated.
According to the exception, “It is not defamation to convey a caution, in good faith, to one person against another, provided that such caution be intended for the good of the person to whom it is conveyed, or of some person in whom that person is interested, or for the public good.”
This essentially negates Moitra’s case of defamation against Sudhir Chaudhary, as his only intention had been to alert the public of matters in the Lok Sabha, affecting them all.
This case filed by Mahua Moitra just conveys the very fascist attitude she claims to be against. By doing so, she is essentially attempting to curb the freedom of speech and expression of the media and to deter them off expressing their own opinions freely without the interference of MPs. Not only that, but she has also gone ahead and filed a criminal case when she very well could have filed a civil case of defamation. But she didn’t do so as she wanted Sudhir Chaudhary to personally suffer. While the case in all probability isn’t going to hold, it is just aimed at injuring the reputation of an ethical journalist.
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