Bharadwaj’s plea for NIA to withdraw 'defamatory' remark ‘not maintainable’ says court

In a detailed order, a special NIA court which rejected on 12 February an application by Bhima-Koregaon accused activist Sudha Bharadwaj seeking that the NIA withdraw its ‘defamatory’ remarks against her, has said that her plea is ‘not maintainable’ as there is no such provision under the Criminal Procedure Code.

The prosecution had objected to her application in a reply to it. Special judge Dinesh E. Kothalikar noted in his order that the court made a query with Bharadwaj’s advocate if such a plea is maintainable. To this, it said, the advocate fairly conceded that though such a provision is incorporated in the Code of Civil Procedure, it does not find a mention in the Criminal Procedure Code. It went on to note that the advocate argued that since the allegations were baseless, the court is competent to direct the NIA to withdraw those and expunge them from its records.

Judge Kothalikar said that his being a criminal court has to act within the four corners of the criminal procedure code. “In view of the fact that such provision does not find place under the CrPC, the application cannot be said to be maintainable...being not maintainable, deserves to be rejected,” the court stated.

The NIA had made the remarks against her in a reply it had filed to her application seeking copies of witness statements. The NIA had said that her application was “filled with malice” and that she is “digging the identities of the aforesaid witnesses so as to cause harm to them”.

Bharadwaj in her present plea had said that the prosecution cannot be allowed to level such defamatory and scurrilous allegations against her merely because she is accused of a crime. She sought that the court reprimand the NIA and its prosecutor for their "irresponsible" conduct and direct them to withdraw the allegations.

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