Medha Patkar gets jail term for ‘defaming’ Delhi L-G

A Delhi court on Monday sentenced renowned social activist Medha Patkar to five months of imprisonment in a 23-year-old defamation case filed by the then president of the non-profit organisation, National Council of Civil Liberties, VK Saxena, who is currently serving as the lieutenant governor (LG) of Delhi.

Metropolitan Magistrate Raghav Sharma found Patkar guilty of defamation and directed her to pay ₹10 lakh as compensation to Saxena for the damage caused to his reputation. The court, however, suspended her sentence under section 389(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure till August 1 to allow her to appeal against the order.

Rejecting Patkar’s prayer to release her on the condition of probation, the judge said, “Considering the facts…damages, age and ailment (of the accused), I am not inclined to give excessive punishment.”

Reacting to the court’s order, Patkar said,“The truth can never be defeated…We have not tried to defame anyone, we only do our work…We will challenge the court’s judgement.”

Patkar and Saxena have been locked in a legal tussle since 2000 after she filed a suit against him for publishing advertisements against her and the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). The case dates back to January 2001, when Saxena alleged that Patkar issued a press release titled, “True Face of Patriot”, on November 25, 2000, containing false imputations intended to harm his reputation. Saxena was then the chief of the Ahmedabad-based NGO.