In her defamation action, L-G VK Saxena demands the worst penalty possible for Medha Patkar

May 30, New Delhi The sentencing of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar, who was found guilty in a defamation case brought by Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G) V.K. Saxena, was postponed till June 7 by a Delhi court on Thursday.

An important turning point in the protracted legal battle between Patkar and Saxena, the head of the Ahmedabad-based NGO National Council for Civil Liberties, which lasted over two decades, was reached on May 24 when Metropolitan Magistrate Raghav Sharma of Saket Courts found Patkar guilty in the case.

The court scheduled the next hearing on June 7 after the parties wrapped up their arguments on Thursday about sentence.

The complainant, Saxena, has provided written reasons emphasizing the need to sentence Patkar to the utmost amount possible. The proposal provides evidence supporting his demand for severe penalties in a number of important areas.

First, the court has been made aware of Patkar’s “criminal history” and “antecedents,” which demonstrate a pattern of repeated breaking the law that is “characteristic of the accused.”

The NBA’s reprimand by the Supreme Court for making fraudulent pleas is another proof of this disobedience.

It has also been emphasized how severe the crime of defamation is, linking it to “moral turpitude.” The complainant contends that Patkar committed a “serious offence” that warrants a severe sentence, particularly because there is no proof of his adherence to the law.

Citing another defamation case from 2006 that is currently undergoing court judgment, the plaintiff labels Patkar a “habitual offender.”

In addition, the complainant said that Patkar disregards social control and disobeys moral and ethical arguments, aggravating factors that point to her guilt given her prior behavior and criminal record.

The argument said that the “maximum sentence should be imposed to deter Patkar and set an example in society, discouraging others from engaging in similar acts that hinder the country’s development” in light of the need of a deterrent penalty.

The defamation lawsuit is the result of many court cases that started in 2000. At that point, Patkar sued Saxena for allegedly libelous advertising she had published against her and the NBA.

In retaliation, Saxena filed two defamation lawsuits against Patkar: one for allegedly disparaging comments she made about him in a TV appearance, and the other for a press release Patkar had released.

The magistrate found her guilty but pointed out that Patkar had written and published an accusation that the complainant was “a coward and not a patriot,” that she had visited Malegao, lauded NBA, and written a check for Rs 40,000 from Lal Bhai Group.

According to Magistrate Sharma, “the accused intended to harm or knew or had reason to believe that such imputation will harm complainant’s reputation by publishing the above imputation.”

As she handed down the judgment confirming her conviction, Magistrate Sharma said that a person’s reputation is one of their most important assets as it influences interactions in both the personal and professional spheres and has a big social effect.

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