Activist Medha Patkar convicted in defamation case filed by Delhi LG VK Saxena after 23 years

The Metropolitan Court held that Patkar's actions were deliberate and malicious, aimed at tarnishing Saxena's good name; arguments on sentence to be held on May 30
Image: Gujarat Samachar

On May 24, social activist Medha Patkar was convicted by a Delhi court lodged in a criminal defamation case filed against her by VK Saxena, the current Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. The said conviction under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 was delivered by Metropolitan Magistrate Raghav Sharma in a 23-year-old case.

Medha Patkar has committed an offence punishable under Section 500 of the IPC. She is hereby convicted of the same,” the court said while pronouncing the conviction.

The matter will now be heard for arguments on sentence on May 30. Notably, for a conviction of criminal defamation, the Narmada Bachao Andolan leader may get a jail term of two years or fine or both as the punishment under the relevant law.

Details of the case:

As per multiple media reports, Patkar and Saxena have been locked in a legal battle since 2000 after she filed a suit against him for publishing advertisements against her and the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA).

Saxena was then the chief of Ahmedabad-based NGO National Council for Civil Liberties. Saxena had also filed two cases against her for making derogatory remarks against him on a TV channel and issuing a defamatory statement.

As per LiveLaw’s report, Saxena had filed the present case in 2001 against Patkar for defaming him in a press note dated November 25, 2000, titled “true face of patriot.” In the press note, Patkar had reportedly said Saxena was a coward and not a patriot.

Observations of the Court:

As per a report of India Today, the magistrate court stated that Patkar’s statements against Saxena were “not only defamatory but also crafted to incite negative perceptions”. The Court had further held that Patkar’s actions were deliberate and malicious, aimed at tarnishing Saxena’s good name and have caused substantial harm to his standing and credit.

During the delivery of the conviction, the Magistrate court further held that “It has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused Medha Patkar published the imputations with the intent and knowledge that they would harm the reputation of the complainant.”

The judge also concluded that Patkar’s decision to label the complainant as a “coward” and “not a patriot” was a direct attack on his personal character and loyalty to the nation. Furthermore, the court noted that Patkar’s accusation that Saxena was “mortgaging the people of Gujarat and their resources to foreign interests was a direct attack on his integrity and public service”.

The court went on to hold that the statements made by Patkar were defamatory as it questioned his patriotism and stated “It has been demonstrated that the defamatory statements made by the accused not only questioned his integrity and patriotism but also falsely associated him with activities contrary to his public stance.”

Referencing to the lack of evidence provided by Patkar to counter the charged levied against her, the court observed that “The accused failed to provide any evidence to counter these claims or to show that she did not intend or foresee the harm these imputations would cause.”



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