Court offers Tharoor final chance to contest ‘Scorpion’ defamation

In October 2018, Tharoor claimed that an unnamed RSS leader had compared PM Modi to "a scorpion sitting on a Shivling" and called it an "extraordinarily striking metaphor".

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Thursday granted Congress MP Shashi Tharoor the final opportunity to file submissions in a plea in which he has challenged the defamation proceedings against him launched on a complaint by a BJP leader over his alleged “scorpion on Shivling” remark targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma adjourned the matter until March 15, 2024, at the request of Tharoor’s counsel and asked the lawyer to file written submissions.

The court, however, made it clear that in case the matter is not argued on the next date of hearing, the petition will be decided based on the written submissions.

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The high court had on October 16, 2020 stayed the criminal proceedings against Tharoor on the defamation complaint.

The court had issued notice and sought the response of complainant Rajiv Babbar on Tharoor’s plea challenging the summons issued against him by the trial court.

Tharoor sought setting aside the trial court’s April 27, 2019 order by which he was summoned as accused in the criminal defamation complaint. He had also sought quashing of the November 2, 2018 complaint.

His counsel had argued that the trial court’s order was bad in law and against the settled principles of criminal jurisprudence, as it overlooked that Babbar’s complaint was “completely false and frivolous”.

In his complaint, Babbar had claimed his religious sentiments were hurt by the Congress leader’s comments.

In October 2018, Tharoor claimed that an unnamed RSS leader had compared Prime Minister Modi to “a scorpion sitting on a Shivling” and called it an “extraordinarily striking metaphor”.

The complainant had said, “I am a devotee of Lord Shiva… However, the accused (Tharoor) completely disregarded the sentiments of crores of Shiva devotees, (and) made the statement which hurt the sentiments of all Lord Shiva devotees, both in India and outside the country.”

The complaint was filed under sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Tharoor was granted bail in the case by the trial court in June 2019.

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