Court reduces cost for Medha Patkar’s absence in defamation cases

New Delhi : Judicial Magistrate at Saket Court, New Delhi, today heard the applications in the defamation cases filed by Medha Patkar against V K Saxena of Gujarat and vice-versa. At the commencement of hearing Advocate V K Ohri filed an application on behalf of Ms. Patkar to reduce the cost for her absence last time when she was on indefinite fast in Golibar, Mumbai. The plea on her behalf was the context of brutal eviction and demolition of houses by the builders and the government in Golibar in the name of Slum Rehabilitation Project.

While the fast was from 3rd to 14th i.e. for 9 days and ended with some concrete assurances, to stop eviction and further the enquiry into fraudulent SRA projects, she could not attend the hearing in the defamation cases on 6th April in New Delhi. This was challenged by the advocate of the respondent accused in the last hearing and then Judicial magistrate clamped the cost of Rs. 15,000 for 3 cases for the same. Mr. Saxena’s lawyer had filed an application for contempt proceedings to be started against Ms. Patkar. But the Judicial Magistrate dismissed the application.

Advoacate Ohri pleaded that since the fast was for a serious public cause and Ms. Patkar belongs to peoples’ movements with financial crunch, the cost may be waived.

The Judicial Magistrate reduced the cost from Rs.15000 to Rs.9000 i.e. Rs.3000 in each of the cases. He expressed his inability to waive the cost as it was passed by another magistrate. The Defamation case filed by Ms. Patkar is regarding the false allegations in a fake advertisement published in the Indian Express and other dailies in November, 2000 wherein Narmada Bachao Andolan and herself were accused of receiving funds through Hawala transaction. Ms. Patkar in defense had filed a defamation case then as the particular transaction involved fake cheque from a fake account and Mr. Saxena published a letter given by Lok Samiti, Malegaon, a supporter organization of Narmada Bachao Andolan.

The judge suggested compromise may be reached between the two parties. Mr. Saxena’s contention was that another case filed by Ms. Patkar in 2002, now before the JFMC, Ahmedabad, should be withdrawn too. In 2002 case, Mr. Saxena is one of the accused along with three other eminent persons from BJP and Congress. The same was refused by Ms. Patkar on the grounds that the attack on her at a Sadbhavna meeting, post 2002 riots, in Sabarmati Ashram, was brutal and fatal and witnessed by not less than 40 eminent persons of Gujarat. The hearing continues in the matter.

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