Delhi High Court on July 10 granted journalist Swati Chaturvedi exemption from personal appearance before the trial court in a defamation case filed by BJP's Delhi spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga. The order comes as a relief for Chaturvedi as she was earlier summoned to appear before the trial court on July 12, 2018 in the defamation case.
In her petition, Chaturvedi had asked the HC to quash the defamation complaint against her, stating that Bagga is having an “ulterior motive” of harassing her. Chaturvedi’s critically acclaimed book titled I am a troll: Inside the secret world of the BJP’sdigital armytalks about BJP and its followers. In the book, she illustrated Bagga as one of the BJP’s internet warriors, who has graduated from online abuse to actual violence.
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When Bagga was appointed as the ruling party’s Delhi spokesperson in March 2017, Chaturvedi with her Twitter handle @bainjal tweeted: “Now the man who beat up @pbhushan1 was arrested in a sexual harassment case speaks for @BJP4India. Good job”. Reacting to this, Bagga filed a criminal defamation complaint against her with Patiala House Court, New Delhi. While similar such tweets were posted by several others, complaint was filed only against her. The trail is underway in this case.
Explaining about her tweet in the petition, Chaturvedi stated that she had only remarked on the conduct of the ruling party – BJP that appointed a person as their spokesman who had criminally assaulted an advocate, and who had been involved in a sexual harassment case.
The first part of the tweet mentions about the attack on advocate Prashant Bhushan in the Supreme Court premises in 2011. A case was filed on this incident in which, Bagga was one of accused and the trial is pending. Bagga himself had confessed the attack, as he tweeted: “He try to break my nation, I try to break his head. Hisab chukta. Congrats to all. Operation Prashant Bhushan successful." In another tweet, he posted: "We hit Prashant Bhushan hard in his chamber in Supreme Court. If you will try to break my nation, I will break your heads.”
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On the sexual harassment allegation in Chaturvedi’s tweet, the petition stated that in 2016, one Dr. Jawala Gurunath filed a complaint against Bagga with the Karnataka Police, accusing him of sexual harassment and insult to her caste identity. The case was later quashed by the Karnataka High Court.
Advocates Arvind Nigam and Pranav Sachdeva appeared for Chaturvedi.