New Delhi: A Delhi court on Tuesday imposed a cost of Rs 3,000 on Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar for non-appearance before it in cross-defamation cases filed by her and the head of an Ahmedabad-based NGO against each other.
Metropolitan Magistrate Vasundhra Chhaunkar slapped a cost of Rs 1,000 in each of the three defamation cases, one filed by Patkar and two by VK Saxena, President of National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), who are involved in a legal tussle for the last 14 years, after she failed to appear in court.
The Magistrate gave "last and final opportunity" to the NBA activist to appear on May 14 and produce the medical certificate for her non-appearance today.
The court, however, allowed Patkar's plea for exemption from personal appearance after her counsel informed that she was suffering from Spondylosis and other related ailments.
"Counsel for accused has moved an application seeking exemption from personal appearance on medical grounds. However no medical certificate is brought on record. Exemption allowed and last and final opportunity is granted with further direction to produce medical certificate with cost of Rs 1000 in each of the cases," the court said.
The matter was listed today for order on framing of charges against Patkar in one of the cases. In the other two cases, the court had already framed charges.
The application for exemption was opposed by Saxena's counsel Mahipal and Shubhashis Soren, who said that he has been present on almost 90 per cent of the dates since 2000, after travelling all the way from Ahmedabad but the NBA activist has hardly appeared for 10 per cent of the dates.
Saxena also argued himself and complained that Patkar always seeks exemption from personal appearance. He claimed that on one occasion she did not appear on medical grounds but it was later discovered through RTI application that she was sitting on a dharna and protest.
The NCCL chief said that on April 6, 2013, the court had
slapped Rs 15,000 cost on Patkar for not appearing before it in connection with these three defamation cases.
The magistrate said that Saxena was also a complainant in the two defamation cases and he has to appear before the court to pursue his cases, no matter if he comes from Ahmedabad.
After granting exemption to Patkar, the court asked the NCCL chief to adduce complainant evidence in another defamation case filed by him against her in which charges have been framed.
Earlier on March 25, last year both Patkar and Saxena had informed the court that it was not possible for them to reach a compromise and withdraw the defamation cases lodged against each other.
The chief of the NGO had then told the court that he had approached Patkar for settlement but she had refused to agree to some of the clauses put by him. And therefore, he was not going to settle the issue.
Patkar and Saxena have been embroiled in legal tussle since year 2000, after she filed a suit against him for advertisements published against herself and Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Patkar had filed one defamation case against Saxena, who, in turn, filed two lawsuits against her.