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'Cash-for-query' row: Mahua Moitra's lawyer withdraws from defamation case after Delhi HC said he played 'mediator'

New Delhi: TMC MP Mahua Moitra’s counsel withdrew himself from arguing before the Delhi High Court in a plea filed by her to restrain BJP MP Nishikant Dubey and advocate Jai Ananat Dehadrai from making any defamatory allegations.

Justice Sachin Datta adjourned the hearing as senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Moitra, withdrew himself from the case since Dehadrai claimed her counsel called him up to persuade him to withdraw the complaint filed with the CBI in exchange of pet dog ‘Henry’.

The lawyer also claimed he has the phone recording to substantiate his assertion.

The bench then asked Sankaranarayanan if he was doing the role of mediation then why he should appear for advancing the arguments.

Sankaranarayanan said that Dehadrai had instructed him in the past, and that is why he approached him. He also said that he told his client, Moitra, that Dehadrai was a member of the Bar and he has earlier assisted him in a case and hence, let him speak to the latter to which she agreed. Justice Sachin Datta said he was “appalled”.

The bench asked if he is still eligible to appear in the matter, since Sankaranarayanan tried to play the role of a mediator. “It’s something that you need to answer yourself. It’s your call,” the judge said, prompting Sankaranarayanan to withdraw himself from the case.

The court then posted the matter for consideration on October 31.

Moitra approached the Delhi High Court on Tuesday seeking to restrain Dubey, advocate Dehadrai, and several social media platforms and media houses from posting, circulating or publishing any “fake and defamatory” content against her.

Moitra is at the centre of a political storm after Dubey complained to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on the basis of an affidavit by Dehadrai that she had allegedly taken bribe from a business house led by Darshan Hiranandani to ask over 50 questions in Parliament with regard to Adani group. The matter has been referred to Ethics Committee.

On October 15, Dubey cited a letter from Dehadrai,Moitra’s estranged friend, to accuse Moitra of “breach of privilege, contempt of the House, and criminal offence”. Moitra has denied the allegations.

The dog named ‘Henry’ is alleged to be reason behind souring of relations between Moitra and Dehadrai, who on Friday, reportedly filed a complaint with the Delhi police accusing Moitra of stealing the dog.

On Thursday, Hiranandani is also reported to have furnished an affidavit stating he had been provided access to Moitra’s Lok Sabha log to ask questions in detail, allegedly in exchange of costly gifts and renovation of her house and travel expenses.

(Published 20 October 2023, 07:44 IST)

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