Court allows Indian Express appeal against Patkar

IN Media Practice | 15/01/2005
The Delhi High Court Thursday dismissed a lower courtøs order that had restored a criminal defamation complaint filed by Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar against the Indian Express in 2000.
 

Indo-Asian News Service 

New Delhi, Jan 13 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Thursday dismissed a lower court`s order that had restored a criminal defamation complaint filed by Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar against the Indian Express in 2000. Judge B.D. Ahmed dismissed the order passed by the Metropolitan Magistrate Bimla Kumari in April 2003 that restored the complaint after dismissing it earlier due to non-appearance of either Patkar or her counsel in the matter when it was taken up hearing.

Ahmed was acting on an appeal filed by the daily. Allowing a submission by the newspaper`s counsel that Kumari did not have the power to recall orders once they had been passed, Ahmed dismissed the complaint. Kumari had dismissed the complaint in default April 17, 2003 when Patkar and her counsel failed to appear before the court when the matter was called for hearing.

However, Kumari had later restored the complaint when Patkar and her counsel appeared before the court. The daily had challenged the restoration of the complaint by Kumari in the high court, saying that the magistrate did not have the power to recall her order. In her complaint, Patkar had accused the daily of publishing a defamatory advertisement titled "True face of Medha Patkar and her Narmada Bachao Andolan" by V.K. Saxena, president of the National Council for Civil Liberties.

The advertisement alleged Narmada Bachao Andolan was passing on confidential documents related to projects of national importance to foreign nationals with an objective to halt the progress of the country, the complaint had said. In support of this allegation, a letter written by Chittaroopa, a Narmada Bachao Andolan worker, had been reproduced in the advertisement, Patkar alleged.

The accusation, which sought to create an impression that Patkar and Narmada Bachao Andolan were passing on confidential documents relating to the economic development of the country to foreign sources, was false and had gravely injured the reputation of Patkar in the minds of readers, the complaint said.

Indo-Asian News Service

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