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Chandan Mitra offers apology to Kashmiri journalist

Written by: Staff
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Srinagar, Mar 5 (UNI) The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has reserved the judgement on an application by The Pioneer Editor Chandan Mitra, seeking transfer of a defamation case against him from Srinagar to Jammu.

Jammu and Kashmir High Court Chief Justice Bashir Ahmed Khan directed the Registrar of the High Court, Jammu not to list the transfer application of Mr Mitra in a defamation suit filed against him by Mr Ghulam Nabi Shaida, Editor of Wadi Ki Awaz, a leading bilingual newspaper from here, till the next hearing of the case on April 24.

Mr Mitra's counsel had filed an application in the High Court at Jammu, seeking transfer of the case from Srinagar to Jammu, citing security reasons.

The transfer application was admitted by the court in Jammu and the proceedings were stayed.

Mr Shaida then filed a counter-application before the Chief Justice, praying the case be heard in Srinagar only. The matter was listed before the Chief Justice here on February 27.

During the hearing, Mr Mitra's counsel offered to pay Rs 50,000 to meet the travel expenses of the complainant and his witnesses from Srinagar to Jammu.

The offer was rejected by Mr Shaida who told the court that even if the accused was ready to pay Rs 50 crore to him, he will not agree on transferring the case from Srinagar to Jammu.

Mr Shaida urged the Chief Justice that Mr Mitra's transfer application be dismissed and he should be directed to produce the evidence to prove the allegations against the complainant.

Mr Mitra's counsel also informed the court that his client was ready to offer and publish the apology on any page of his newspaper (The Pioneer) to the satisfaction of the complainant. This offer was also rejected by Mr Shaida.

The court directed Mr Mitra's counsel to sort out the matter with the complainant before the next date of hearing and assured him that adequate security would be provided to the Editor of Pioneer in the Valley to enable him to appear in the court.

Justice Khan also said that Mr Mitra's transfer application would be considered on the following day of the next date of hearing.

The case is related to an article in The Pioneer on September 20 last year titled ''A tip of jehadi ice-berg' by Anil Bhat in which it was mentioned that Wadi Ki Awaz newspaper supports militancy in the state.

Mr Shaida is seeking damages to the tune of Rs four crore from The Pioneer and a notice has already been sent to the Editor in this regard.

When contacted by UNI, Mr Shaida said there was no question of accepting the apology from Mr Mitra.

''We want the case be settled on the basis of merit. We had sent a legal notice to him (Mr Mitra) to pay the damages. Since he failed to do the same, we filed a defamation suit,'' he added.

UNI AG FMH JN VC1425

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