Mumbai: Court rejects activist Sudha Bharadwaj’s plea to withdraw defamatory remarks

A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court has rejected activist and Elgar Parishad accused Sudha Bharadwaj’s application for the NIA to withdraw allegedly defamatory remarks against her in a reply it had filed in court to her plea seeking copies of witness statements.

The NIA had, in its reply she raised objection to, said that the Bharadwaj’s application “is filed actuated with malice” and that she is “digging the identities of the aforesaid witnesses so as to cause harm to them”. The reply signed by the Special Public Prosecutor and the investigating officer had further stated that “under the guise of constitutional rights the applicant is risking the lives of witnesses”.

Bharadwaj’s present plea had sought that these remarks be expunged from the court’s record. She had also called the allegations “baseless” and said that the prosecution cannot be allowed to level such defamatory and scurrilous allegations against her merely because she is accused of a crime.

The plea had also sought that the court reprimand the NIA and its prosecutor for their "irresponsible" conduct and direct them to withdraw the allegations.

“The prosecution has a responsibility to act with fairness and cannot run roughshod over a vulnerable and incarcerated person by indulging in such kind of scandalous mudslinging,” the 58-year-old’s application said, adding that “The prosecution cannot be allowed to reduce the Hon’ble court to a forum where gossip and slander be bandied about in the guise of legal arguments.”

The NIA’s reply was to an application by Bharadwaj earlier seeking copies of witness statements in which identities of witnesses and their addresses be protected as allowed by law, but the contents of the statements not be truncated in various portions. Her plea seeking copies had said that the truncation is obstructing her defence as the statements are not making sense with the truncations.

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