Medha Patkar sentenced to 5-month jail term in defamation case; Delhi Court gives her one month time to appeal against order

However, the court suspended the sentence for one month to enable Patkar to file an appeal against the order.
Last Updated : 01 July 2024, 11:02 IST

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New Delhi: In a big setback to Narmada Bachao Andolan leader and activist Medha Patkar, a Delhi court on Monday sentenced her to five months in jail in a defamation case filed against her by Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena in 2001.

Metropolitan Magistrate of Saket Courts here Raghav Sharma also directed Patkar to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation to Saxena.

After pronouncing the order on sentence, the court, however, said that this will remain suspended for 30 days, to enable Patkar file an appeal. 

In its order, the court noted that keeping in view the age and health of the convict Patkar, it refrained from passing any excessive punishment of one year or two years against her in the case.

In its judgment, the court had noted that by explicitly stating that Saxena was "pained with hawala transactions", Patkar aimed to associate him with illegal and unethical financial dealings, which inflicted significant harm to his reputation and standing.

"Without providing any substantive evidence, this is a clear attempt to malign his financial integrity and create a public perception of wrongdoing," the court said.

The court had held that the terms used by Patkar against Saxena were not only inflammatory, but were also intended to provoke public outrage and diminish his esteem.

Saxena had filed the defamation case against Patkar in 2001, when he was the former President of an Ahmedabad-based, NGO, National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL). 

Saxena had in 2000 published an advertisement against Patkar's NBA, the movement that opposed the construction of dams over the Narmada river.

After getting to see the publication of the advertisement, Patkar had issued a press note against Saxena. The note stated that Saxena was “mortgaging the people of Gujarat and their resources before Bill Gates and Wolfensohn and he was an agent of the Government of Gujarat”.

This press note of Patkar led Saxena to file a defamation suit against her before a court in Ahmedabad in 2001. The case was, later, however, transferred to Delhi in 2003 on the orders of the Supreme Court.

On May 24, this year, the court convicted Patkar.

Published 01 July 2024, 11:02 IST

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