A Delhi court today imposed a cost of Rs 15,000 on NBA activist Medha Patkar for not appearing before it in defamation cases filed by her and the head of an Ahmedabad-based NGO against each other.
Metropolitan Magistrate Rajinder Singh slapped a cost of Rs 5,000 in each of the three defamation cases filed by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Patkar and V K Saxena,President of National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL),who are involved in a legal tussle for the last 13 years,after she failed to appear in court.
The court,however,allowed Patkar’s plea for exemption from personal appearance for a day. “The accused (Patkar,who is also a complainant) is absent on almost every date. Exemption (from personal appearance) is allowed with cost of Rs 5,000 in each of the cases,” the court said while asking her to appear before it on July 17.
The judge noted that the matter had been fixed for today with the direction that Patkar and Saxena should compromise and settle their differences and withdraw their defamation cases against each other,but “no such conclusion is before me”.
The court on January 10 had advised the two litigants to to settle their differences and withdraw their defamation cases against each other. Seeking exemption from personal appearance,Patkar’s counsel today informed the court that she is on a hunger strike in Mumbai to protest against the demolition of Guru Kripa Society in Golibar Slum area there.
The application was opposed by Saxena’s counsel Mahipal Ahluwalia who said that his client is present on almost all the dates since year 2000 after travelling all the way from Ahmedabad,but Patkar has only appeared 10 out of the 48 times the case was listed for hearing.
Meanwhile,Saxena moved an application for dismissal of complaint against him which the judge has fixed for arguments on July 17.
Saxena submitted that Patkar was absent on the last date of hearing also on the ground that she was busy in Mumbai but no documentary evidence was given.
The NCCL President also cited a Supreme Court direction auctioning all courts that “it is desirable that in future the courts must view any presentation by the NBA with caution and care,insisting on proper pleadings,disclosure of full facts truly and fairly and in case it has any doubt,refuse to entertain the NBA”.
Saxena,in his plea,also alleged that Patkar is in habit of filing defamation cases “to get cheap publicity” and “to terrorise and harass” those persons who expose her activities.
“Various proceedings were initiated by her to victimise individuals having stature in society,” he alleged in his plea while referring to some defamation cases filed by Patkar against a former Gujarat Chief Minister as well as a former Deputy Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.
These cases were also dismissed as she never appeared before the court nor did she follow up on them,Saxena alleged in his application.
“From these instances,it is crystal clear that complainant (Patkar) is habitual offender,not serious in pursuing the cases,is in the habit of avoiding court proceedings on flimsy grounds,making false statements,intentionally submitting false evidence to derail due process of justice,” it claimed.
She “had invited court ire on a number of occasions,not only in this court but in other courts also,for not appearing before it,” the application claimed and sought dismissal of her complaint with imposition of heavy costs on Patkar.
Patkar had filed two defamation cases against Saxena,who too had filed a counter defamation case against the NBA leader.
She had filed the suit for publication of an article ‘True Face of Medha Patkar and her NBA’ in 2000 allegedly at the behest of Saxena against whom the court has already framed charges.
The case was shifted from Ahmedabad to Delhi by the Supreme Court on a plea of the NBA activist. The court had earlier framed charges under section 500 (defamation) of the IPC against both Patkar and Saxena in two separate cases filed by them against each other.
Patkar and Saxena have been locked in criminal cases of defamation against each other since 2000 after she filed a suit against him for advertisements published against her and NBA.