The Bombay High Court today hauled up Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut over remarks directed at actor Kangana Ranaut earlier this month – while the two sparred bitterly over her comparing Mumbai to PoK – demanding to know if this was appropriate behaviour for a parliamentarian.
A division bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and RI Chagla had several stern words for the Rajya Sabha member, who is a senior Sena figure and the party spokesperson.
“We also don’t agree with what the petitioner has said. But is this the way to address her? You are a leader. We are proud of being Maharashtrians… but is this the way to react? You have to show grace. You cannot use such language,” the court said.
“We are all Maharashtrians, and proud to be Maharashtrians but we have to show grace. This is not the way,” the justices added.
Chastised, Mr Raut’s lawyer said “the language used could have been avoided” but also appeared to insist that the remark itself had been provoked by a “dishonest” petitioner.
During today’s hearing Mr Raut, via his lawyer, also submitted an affidavit denying he had threatened Ms Ranaut and the comment “wasn’t in the way the petitioner had alleged”.
The court, in no mood to relent, pointed out that the affidavit meant Mr Raut at least accepted he had been talking about the actor; in an earlier hearing the Sena leader’s lawyer said her client made no reference to Ms Ranaut at all.
“He should not have said that… but there was no threatening message. He only said that the petitioner is very dishonest. That was after the petitioner said Maharashtra is not safe,” the lawyer was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Mr Raut was caught on camera using an expletive in a tirade against Ms Ranaut after the 33-year-old actor compared Mumbai to PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir).
He has not, so far, apologised for that remark but, amid the outrage generated by his comment, Mr Raut conceded that his choice of words could have been better.
“I may have made a mistake,” he told NDTV.
“(But) Kangana also makes these mistakes, we have seen several times,” he added – an apparent reference to Ms Ranaut’s comment about feeling unsafe in Mumbai.
Yesterday an audio recording of Mr Raut’s comment was played for the court; which is hearing the matter via video conference because of the pandemic.
The row between Maharashtra’s ruling Shiv Sena and Kangana Ranaut erupted after the actor’s remarks concerning Mumbai Police’s investigation into the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. Criticising the police’s handling of the case, Ms Ranaut said she felt unsafe in the city.
The Sena lashed out and demanded that she stay away if that was the case. That was when Ms Ranaut wondered “why Mumbai seemed like PoK”.
In the escalating exchange between the two parties, Mumbai civic authorities began demolishing Ms Ranaut’s office in the posh residential area of Pali Hills, citing 14 “violations”.
Ms Ranaut secured a stay on the demolition and, earlier this month, filed a Rs 2 crore compensation claim in an amended petition to the same case. In the amended petition, she said the demolition was a direct result of her comments against the Maharashtra government.
Mr Raut has been made a respondent to the petition against the demolition.
The court is now conducting a final hearing on the petition but has adjourned the hearing to October 5.
With input from PTI