2010 Defamation Case | HC dismisses Naem Akhtar’s plea challenging trial court proceeding

2010 Defamation Case | HC dismisses Naem Akhtar’s plea challenging trial court proceeding

J&K High Court has dismissed a plea challenging proceedings initiated by a trial court here in 2010 against a senior Peoples Democratic Party leader for accusing former J&K Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah of receiving kickbacks in allotting a hydropower project.

Observing it as "bereft of any merit", a bench of Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul dismissed the petition by Naem Akhtar, who was the chief spokesman of the PDP in 2010.

The Court further asked the parties to appear before trial court on July 20.

Akhtar had challenged the proceeding initiated against him and other PDP leader Nizamuddin Bhat by Principal Sessions Court Srinagar before the High Court, on a complaint filed by the government in 2010 through then Public Prosecutor Aziz Teli.

On 29 September 2010, the trial court while taking cognizance of the complaint in keeping with the allegations made had issued bailable warrants against the two PDP leaders for securing their presence.

The prosecution has sought trial of the PDP leaders under sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) for leveling "false and baseless" accusations, at a presser on 25 August 2010, against Omar that he received Rs 500 crore kickbacks in the allotment of Rattle hydropower project.

The complaint said the PDP leaders also made a defamatory allegation regarding exorbitant expenditure incurred on the construction of official residence of the then Chief Minister as well as regarding pilferage of certain priceless antiques from the state "Toshakhana."

According to the compliant, the leaders had also leveled defamatory allegations with regard to withdrawal of secret funds by the then Chief Minister, merely by relying upon the media reports.

The Court dismissed the petition after hearing Akhtar's counsel besides Additional Advocate General BA Dar for the government.

The Court observed that the petitioner failed to make out a case for exercise of inherent powers under Section 561-A CrPC (Section 482 of the Central CrPC) to quash the complaint or for that matter the proceedings initiated thereon by the trial court.

"Having said so, the petition on hand is dismissed. Interim direction, if any, shall stand vacated" the Court said.

It underlined that "when exercising jurisdiction under section 482 of the code, the High Court would not ordinarily embark upon an enquiry whether the evidence in question is reliable or not or whether on reasonable appreciation thereof, accusation would not be sustained. That is the function of the trial judge," the Court observed.

The powers possessed by the High Court under Section 482 CrPC, the bench said, were very wide and at the same time the power require great caution in exercise.

"The Court must be careful to see that its decision in exercise of this power is based on sound principles. The inherent power should not be exercised to stifle a legitimate prosecution," the Court said.

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