2004 defamation case: City Court dismisses Mehbooba’s application seeking dismissal of case

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SRINAGAR (KNS) – Sub Judge Passenger Tax Court Srinagar, Ashwani Kumar on Saturday dismissed the application filed by People’s Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti, in which she had prayed for the dismissal of the 2004 defamation case against her filed by NC leader Ali Muhammad Sagar. In her application Mehbooba had also appealed the court to discharge her from the case.

Sources told KNS, Mehbooba had moved an application in the Court after State High Court (HC) had disposed off her petition under section 561(A) CrPc.

In her application, Mehbooba’s counsel had argued that the complaint under section 500 RPC (Defamation) was not maintainable as no prior sanction for the prosecution under section 197 had been obtained before lodging the present complaint.

“The court dismissed the application and now the case is scheduled for further hearing and recording of statements on Nov 24”, said Sagar’s Counsel Advocate Hamid Bakhshi.

“The court should have taken the cognizance of the matter before taking the prior sanction from the speaker of Lok Sabha as she (Mehbooba) was a Member of Parliament”, Mehbooba’s counsel had argued.

However, Sagar’s cousel had argued that the allegedly defamatory utterances had been made by Mehbooba Mufti in April 2004, while as she was elected as MP in May 2004, ‘which does not make it mandatory to get prior permission from Lok Sabha speaker’.

Mehbooba’s counsel Mohammad Altaf Naik had also argued in the court that whatever Mehbooba Mufti has said was based on the contents of an FIR.

It may be recalled that Sagar filed a defamation suit against Mehbooba in 2004 in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Srinagar under section 500. According to Sagar, Mehbooba had accused him of rigging elections and capturing polling booths to ensure victory of present chief minister Omar Abdullah. Sagar was then chief polling agent of Omar. Later Sagar in his defamation petition accused Mehbooba of maligning his image by levelling “baseless” allegations. 

On July 28, last year Mehbooba filed an application before the court praying that she should be discharged from what she called a baseless defamation case against her. In her application the PDP president had said that the complaint of bogus voting against Sagar was not reported by her but by a then polling officer who was on his duty at polling station Khanyar.

Before the judge for passenger tax could proceed ahead, Mehbooba challenged Sagar’s petition in the High Court in 2005 under section 561. After hearing the case for 4-years, Mehbooba’s petition was dismissed by the High Court, which directed Magistrate Passenger taxes to go ahead with the proceedings.

Pertinently, Mehbooba had challenged Sagar’s defamation suit against her but the High Court had ordered that she can agitate all her points before the trial court. Earlier on June 28, last year Mehbooba had appeared before the judge for passenger tax.

The court had later said that it can not reopen the case of maintainability of the petition at this stage of the proceedings. Mehbooba had submitted that she had not said anything against Sagar but quoted media reports against him only.

Later she was admitted to bail to the tune of Rs 20,000 with two sureties of the same amount each. Mehbooba had also filed an application before the judge that she should be exempted form personal appearances in the matter in future, which was strongly objected by the complainant.

However, the court overruled the objections by holding that Mehbooba’s personal appearance can create security problems in the court. She was later exempted from appearing personally in the matter in further hearings in the matter.

The Passenger Court had on Nov 3 reserved order on maintainability of a defamation suit.

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