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Gujarat HC stays proceedings against Delhi LG VK Saxena in 2002 assault case

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court has stayed the trial against Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena in an alleged assault case filed by activist Medha Patkar, by taking into account the constitutional protection provided to him till he holds the LG office.

The matter pertains to the complaint lodged by activist Medha Patkar in 2002 against VK Saxena and three others accusing them of allegedly assaulting her. The Gujarat HC on Tuesday restrained a lower Court in Ahmedabad from going ahead with the trial against Delhi LG by taking into account his contention that he was provided protection under the Constitution till he occupies the office of the LG.
The HC said that the contentions raised by Saxena's counsel "require consideration" and also issued notices to Patkar.

It also noted the submission of Saxena's counsel that the delay in the trial in the 2002 case was due to the adjournment applications moved by complainant Medha Patkar on 94 occasions.
In the petition, Saxena contented that Patkar "falsely implicated" him as he had exposed her "anti-Gujarat" and "anti-Sardar Sarovar Project" activities under the guise of 'Narmada Bachao Andolan' in the year 2000.
His counsel submitted that the Delhi LG has been ab intio vigorously defending the "motivated, vexatious and vindictive" prosecution instituted by the complainant, Medha Patkar.

Saxena, who has challenged the May 8, 2023 order of the trial court, also sought an interim stay on further proceedings which was granted by the High Court.

"Meanwhile, ad-interim relief (of stay of Trial Court order) in terms of para 11 (B) qua the present petitioner (VK Saxena) Direct service is permitted," said Justice M K Thakker in the interim order passed on May 23.
The HC said the contentions raised by Saxena's counsel "requires consideration" and issued notices to Patkar and the state returnable on June 19.
Senior advocate Jal S Unwalla and advocate Ajay Kumar Choksi, appearing for the LG, submitted that he has been protected by Article 361 (2) (3) of the Constitution and the trial court has arrived at apparently erroneous findings that granting protection to him and recording statements of witnesses after he demits office of LG would delay the trial.

Taking on record the arguments of Saxena's counsel, the HC stated "In view of the aforesaid submissions, this Court finds that the matter requires consideration and notice is required to be issued. Hence, Notice returnable on June 19, 2023."
Saxena's advocates relied upon the chart placed in the petition to buttress that delay in the trial of the case was due to the non-cooperation of Patkar who from June 20, 2005, to February 01, 2023, moved applications for adjournments more than 94 times.
"The said record has been grossly overlooked by the Trial Court while arriving to the irrational and illogical conclusions with respect to the delay", Saxena's counsel had argued.

The counsel submitted, "The delay that occurred is at the instance of the complainant (Medha Patkar). The credit of delay cannot be bestowed upon the petitioner to deny the protection, which is precisely available under the Constitution. To secure the presence of Medha Patkar for recording her evidence is like an old shoe to mull over".

The petition filed by Saxena seeking to set aside the Trial Court order of May 08, 2023, blamed Patkar for the delay in the trial.
"After issuance of summons, in the year 2005, she did not appear and sought for more than 46 adjournments for recording her evidence and ignored and avoided the process of law and appeared before the trial court for the first time in 2012, seven years after the issuance of summons," the plea stated.

The petition pointed out that after 20 adjournments, Patkar appeared and concluded her examination in chief and for a long period she remained absent for her cross-examination and took another 24 adjournments.
The petition narrated the sequence of events in the trial of the case.

The petition by Saxena stated that the Trial Court ought to have verified the record on, the "conduct" of Patkar and her participation in the trial. (ANI)

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