NEW DELHI: Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar and the head of an Ahmedabad-based NGO, who have filed three cross defamation cases against each other, were on Thursday directed by a trial court to reach a compromise. Passing the direction, the court referred the matters to the mediation centre observing that both Patkar and VK Saxena, President of NGO National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), were public figures and their long legal tussle was not leading anywhere.
“You both are public figures. Why don’t you sit and talk? The matter is being referred to mediation centre. You both try to reach settlement today itself before a mediator and inform the court on next date of hearing,” Metropolitan Magistrate Vasundhra Chhaunkar said while posting the matter for July 30. During the brief hearing, Patkar deposited Rs 3,000 fine imposed on her for non-appearance on the last date of hearing of the case and submitted a medical certificate regarding her ailments.
The court, which was to pronounce its order on framing of defamation charges against Patkar in one of the three cases, asked her why she was not trying to settle the dispute with Saxena, as both have to come to Delhi from Ahmedabad for the cases which have been going on for the past 14 years. Counsel appearing for Patkar said the Supreme Court was already hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of section 499 and 500 (defamation) of IPC and if Saxena was ready to withdraw two cases against her, then she would withdraw her case “within five minutes”.
Saxena’s counsel Mahipal and Shubhashis Soren said that Patkar has lodged a false case against him at Ahmedabad and any settlement could be reached only if she withdraws her case against him. “You should not go into mediation with a blocked mind but with an open mind. Try to reach a settlement and if you fail to do so, then court will proceed accordingly,” the magistrate said.