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HC rejects former Cong MLA’s petition for dissolution of defamation complaint against him

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Srinagar: The J&K High Court Tuesday rejected a petition by former Congress MLA Mohammad Amin Bhat, praying dissolution of a defamation complaint against him by former PDP leader Sartaj Madani in a local court in Anantnag.

Hearing the matter, Justice Sanjay Dhar said “it is clear that the averments made in the complaint and the material in support thereof clearly discloses commission of offence under Section 500 RPC against the petitioner (Bhat)”.

He observed “the Magistrate has, after applying his mind to the complaint as well as the preliminary statement of the complainant and his witness, recorded satisfaction that the offence under Section 500 RPC is made out against the petitioner/accused, whereafter process has been issued against him.”

“Therefore, no fault can be found with the order dated 20.08.2018 whereby process has been issued against him,” the court said.

The court said that it was not open to it to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 561-A of J&K CrPC to quash the complaint and the proceedings emanating there from.

“… the petition is found to be without any merit. The same is, accordingly, dismissed,” the court said, adding, “the trial court shall proceed ahead with the case in accordance with law.”

Madani, maternal uncle of PDP chief and formed chief minister Mehbooab Mufti, had filed the complaint in 2018 before Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Anantnag against Bhat, who at that time was a member of the former Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly from Devsar constituency in Anantnag.

In the complaint Madani, a former Deputy Speaker of the erstwhile State Legislative Assembly, alleged that on 14th of July 2018 Congress MLA Mohammad Amin Bhat addressed two public meetings, one at Devsar and another at Kund.

Bhat according to Madani had leveled allegations against him of accumulating property worth Rs 10,000 crores by looting poor people and got loan worth Rs 40 lakhs waived off.

Bhat, as per the complaint, also alleged that Madani ensured allotment of projects worth Rs 200 crores to his son at Anantnag without undertaking any tendering process for construction of Medical College at Larkipora and had also received bribe of Rs 10 lakhs for each appointment in J&K Bank.

Bhat is also alleged to have stated that Madani had accumulated assets at Chandigarh, Delhi, Jammu, Pahalgam and Bihar.

The CJM Anantnag took cognizance of offence against the Bhat and issued judicial process against him in terms of order on 20 August, 2018.

It was this order which was challenged by the Bhat before the High Court, contending that at the relevant time he was a member of the Legislative Assembly and as such no cognizance of offence could have been taken against him without sanction for prosecution from the competent authority.

He also contended that the alleged defamatory statements were made by him at Devsar and Kund and both these places are located in District Kulgam, thus, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Anantnag, did not have territorial jurisdiction to entertain the complaint.

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