Delhi Court Convicts Activist Medha Patkar In Defamation Case Filed By L-G VK Saxena

Delhi Court Convicts Activist Medha Patkar In Defamation Case Filed By L-G VK Saxena

Saxena filed two defamation cases against Patkar -- one for alleged derogatory remarks she made about him during a television appearance, while the second case involved a press statement issued by Patkar.

IANSUpdated: Friday, May 24, 2024, 07:09 PM IST
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New Delhi, May 24: A Delhi court on Friday convicted Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar in a defamation case filed by Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G) V.K. Saxena. This marks an important development in a prolonged legal battle that has spanned over two decades between the two -- Patkar and Saxena, who was also the Chairman of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).

The defamation case stems from a series of legal disputes that began in 2000. At that time, Patkar filed a suit against Saxena for publishing advertisements that she claimed were defamatory towards her and the NBA. Saxena was then the head of the Ahmedabad-based NGO, National Council for Civil Liberties.

In response, Saxena filed two defamation cases against Patkar -- one for alleged derogatory remarks she made about him during a television appearance, while the second case involved a press statement issued by Patkar.

Metropolitan Magistrate Raghav Sharma of Saket Courts noted that Patkar made and published imputation that the complainant had visited Malegao, praised NBA, had issued a cheque of Rs 40,000, which came from Lal Bhai Group, and that “he was a coward and not a patriot".

Magistrate Sharma noted: “The accused by publishing the above imputation intended to harm or knew or had reason to believe that such imputation will harm complainant's reputation.”

Advocates Gajinder Kumar, Kiran Jai, Chandra Shekhar, Drishti, and Somya Arya appeared for the L-G, while advocate Sridevi Pannikar represented Patkar in the court. While the judge passed an order for her conviction, he made certain observations.

Magistrate Sharma said that reputation is one of the most valuable assets a person can possess, as it affects both personal and professional relationships and can significantly impact an individual's standing in the society.

Regarding Patkar’s statements calling the L-G a coward, and not a patriot, and alleging his involvement in hawala transactions, the judge said they were not only defamatory per see, but also crafted to incite negative perceptions.

“Furthermore, the accusation that the complainant was mortgaging the people of Gujarat and their resources to foreign interests was a direct attack on his integrity and public service,” he said. “The complainant's testimony, supported by the depositions of CW2 and CW3, demonstrated that the defamatory statements made by the accused not only questioned his integrity and patriotism, but also falsely associated him with activities contrary to his public stance,” he added.

According to the judgement, Patkar failed to provide any evidence to counter these claims or to show that she did not intend or foresee the harm these imputations would cause. “The resulting inquiries and doubts raised among the complainant's acquaintances, as well as the shift in perception highlighted by the witnesses, underscore the significant damage to his reputation,” the court order read.

It was Magistrate Sharma’s findings that it is clear that Patkar’s actions were deliberate and malicious, aimed at tarnishing the complainant's good name, and have indeed caused substantial harm to his standing and credit in the eyes of the public.

“From the evidence appraised above, it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused published the imputations with the intent and knowledge that they would harm the reputation of the complainant and, therefore, committed an offence punishable under Section 500 of the IPC. She is hereby convicted of the same,” Magistrate Sharma said.

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