A court of additional district judge (ADJ) in Bhopal district on Thursday stayed an arrest warrant against Union water resources minister Uma Bharti, just hours after chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Bhopal, Bhu Bhaskar, issued the order over her repeated failure to record statement in a defamation case filed by senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.
ADJ Ram Kumar Chaubey stayed the warrant, while hearing a revision petition filed by the minister’s counsel, who pleaded she was in Delhi to resolve Cauvery reservoir dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in compliance with Supreme Court’s directives.This plea was admitted and the warrant was stayed, said sources. Earlier, CJM court had directed senior superintendent of police (SSP) to ensure her presence during the next hearing on October 19. The order came in response to an application moved by Bharti’s lawyer, Harish Mehta, under Section 317 of CrPC, which allows inquiries and trial in absence of accused. CJM observed she did not appear before court during trials in last one year.
In the last hearing on February 5, court directed Uma Bharti and Digvijaya Singh to be present for a possible mediation on March 8.
The direction came after the court admitted an application moved by Mehta about a possibility of compromise between the Union minister and the Congress leader. Uma Bharti was scheduled to record her statement in connection with the case during earlier hearings too, but was represented by her lawyer.Digvijaya Singh had already deposed before the CJM.
Singh had moved court against Uma Bharti for her purported statement in 2003, alleging a scam in Madhya Pradesh during his tenure as chief minister between 1993 and 2003.
In the run-up to 2003 Assembly elections, Uma Bharti had accused Digvijaya of being involved in a scam of Rs 15,000 crore during his 10-year tenure.
In 2014, Singh said he was ready to withdraw the defamation case if she apologised in court for ‘levelling false allegations’.