Activist Medha Patkar Sentenced To 5-Month Jail Term By Delhi Court In 23-Year-Old Defamation Case

Activist Medha Patkar Sentenced To 5-Month Jail Term By Delhi Court In 23-Year-Old Defamation Case

The court sentenced the noted social activist in a 23-year-old defamation case filed against her by Delhi Lieutenant General VK Saxena who headed an NGO in Gujarat back in the day. Medha Patkar is planning to appeal the court decision.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, July 01, 2024, 07:48 PM IST
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(File) Social activist Medha Patkar | PTI

A court in Delhi on Monday (July 1) handed prison term to social activist Medha Patkar. The case against her was filed 23 years ago by Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena who at the time headed an NGO in the state of Gujarat. The court on Monday however, suspended the five-month prison term for one month so that Patkar can file an appeal if she chooses to. In addition to the prison term, Metropolitan Magistrate Raghav Sharma has also imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh.

The court rejected Patkar's request to keep her under probation instead of handing a jail term.

"Considering the facts...damages, age and ailment (of the accused), I am not inclined to give excessive punishment," said the judge, apparently justifying the prison sentence. He was quoted by Press Trust of India (PTI).

The defamation charge levelled against Medha Patkar has maximum punishment of two years or fine or both.

The court observed on May 24 that Patkar calling Saxena a "coward" and alleging that he was involved in hawala transactions resulted in negative perceptions about Saxena in addition to the accusations being defamatory in themselves.

The court also said that by saying Saxena was "mortgaging" the people of Gujarat to foreign interests, Patkar launched a direct attack on his integrity and public service.

Patkar and Saxena have been waging a legal war since the year 2000. Patkar had filed lawsuit against Saxena for an advertisement he published against her and the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA).

At the time of the lawsuit, Saxena headed an NGO named 'Council for Civil Liberties'. In 2001, he sued Patkar for defamation.

Responding to the court's decision, Patkar clearly indicated that she plans to appeal the verdict given by the lower court.

"The truth can never be defeated...We have not tried to defame anyone, we only do our work...we will challenge the court's judgment," she said as quoted by the Press Trust of India.

Medha Patkar has been the face of Narmada Bachao Andolan for many decades. Tribal population affected by the dam on Narmada river has agitated for a long time under her leadership to demand their right.

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