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HomeLatest NewsMedha Patkar gets 5-month jail in LG defamation case | India News

Medha Patkar gets 5-month jail in LG defamation case | India News

NEW DELHI: A city court on Monday sentenced activist Medha Patkar (70) to five months of simple imprisonment in a criminal defamation case filed by Delhi LG VK Saxena.
The court of metropolitan magistrate Raghav Sharma took note of the activist’s age and medical condition but observed these factors “do not absolve her of the serious nature of her offence”, reported.
The court directed Patkar to pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation to LG Saxena, saying the imposition of the substantial fine recognises the “extensive harm and prolonged suffering that the complainant had endured over the 23-24 years of legal battle” and was a tangible acknowledgement of his distress.
False Charges Undermine Trust: Court
The offence entails a maximum punishment of simple imprisonment of up to two years or fine or both.
The sentence will remain suspended for 30 days to give Patkar enough opportunity to file an appeal, said the court. It had on May 24 convicted the activist in the case filed in 2000 by Saxena when he was president of National Council of Civil Liberties because of a defamatory press release.
“The unfounded accusations, such as involvement in hawala transactions and compromising the interests of Gujarat’s people for foreign entities, were designed to ruin the complainant’s public image and credibility. The complainant experienced profound damage to his reputation, trustworthiness and social standing. These defamatory remarks led to severe personal and professional hardships, forcing the complainant to suffer through the anguish of a drawn-out legal battle for over 20 years,” said the court.
Advocates Gajinder Kumar and Kiran Jai, Saxena’s counsels, requested the court that the fine amount be given to Delhi State Legal Services Authority. Responding to this, the court said that the complainant could dispense the amount as per his own wish after receiving it.
Taking note of Patkar’s distinguished status, which got her 28 national and five international awards, including Right to Livelihood Award (alternative Nobel), the court remarked that this makes her actions “even more reprehensible” and that her respectable position in society brings with it a responsibility to uphold the truth and act with integrity.
“The fact that someone of her stature made such false and damaging allegations aggravates her liability as it undermines public trust and sets a negative example,” the court noted. However, referring to her age as well as medical condition, the court said a balanced approach was required and it wished to impose a “just and humane” punishment.
Rejecting the request of Patkar’s counsels for probation, the court said her actions exhibit a “high degree of severity and intentionality”, clearly aimed at inflicting significant reputational harm on Saxena and there is no indication of remorse or acceptance of responsibility for the damage inflicted on him.
The court said that by accusing Saxena of involvement in hawala transactions, Patkar had linked him to illegal financial activities without any evidence and seriously undermined his financial integrity and public trust.
Furthermore, the accusation that he was “mortgaging the people of Gujarat and their resources to foreign interests” suggested that he was betraying the trust of the citizens of Gujarat for personal gain, which is a grave imputation that irreparably damaged his reputation and standing, the court said. Labelling the complainant a “coward” and “not a patriot” further intensified the defamatory nature of the accusations, the court said.

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