SC quashes defamation case against Tejashwi, RJD leader says he holds Gujaratis in great esteem

Yadav said he had no intention of defaming Gujaratis as a community

Tejashwi Yadav Tejashwi Yadav

In a relief to RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, the Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed the defamation complaint against him over the "Gujarati thugs" remark after he withdrew it unconditionally.

In an affidavit filed before the top court, Yadav, a former deputy chief minister of Bihar, submitted that he holds Gujaratis as a community in great esteem and has no ill-will or animus against them.

In Mahatma Gandhi, Gujarat has given the greatest gift to mankind, Yadav said, adding he had no intention of defaming Gujaratis as a community.

Yadav said he made the remarks on March 22, 2023 when journalists sought his response to alleged revocation of the Red Corner Notice issued against fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi. The businessman is a Gujarat native.

"Only Gujaratis can be thugs in the present situation, and their fraud will be forgiven. Who will be responsible if they run away with the money belonging to the LIC or banks?" the then Bihar deputy chief minister had reportedly said, according to the complaint filed against him by a Gujarat resident.

A bench of Justices A S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan granted the relief to the politician while exercising its power under Article 142 of the Constitution.

The top court said under Article 142 of the Constitution it possesses extraordinary Constitutional powers to pass any decree or order which is necessary for doing complete justice between the parties.

"In this case, the respondent appears to have been hurt in view of the statements made by the petitioner generally about Gujarati people.

"Now, after the petitioner has explained the context in which he made the statements and after withdrawal of those statements, in the facts of the case, it is unjust to continue the prosecution. No purpose will be served by continuing the prosecution. Therefore, we are of the view that in the peculiar facts of the case, this is a fit case to quash the complaint," the bench said.

The top court had on February 5 reserved its order on a plea filed by Yadav seeking transfer of the criminal defamation complaint pending against him in an Ahmedabad court over his remarks to a place outside the state, preferably Delhi.

The apex court had on January 29 directed Yadav to file a "proper statement" withdrawing his comments.

The top court, while hearing the RJD leader's plea, had earlier stayed the proceedings in the criminal defamation complaint and issued notice to the Gujarat resident who had filed it.

The Gujarat court had in August conducted a preliminary inquiry against Yadav under section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and found sufficient grounds to summon him on the complaint filed by Haresh Mehta, a local businessman and activist.

Mehta claimed Yadav's comments defamed all Gujaratis.

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