Bhujbal withdraws defamation cases against Rane
Mumbai, Mar 22: Maharashtra PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal today formally withdrew two defamation cases against his opponent-turned Cabinet colleague Narayan Rane.
Mr Bhujbal and Mr Rane, now the Revenue Minister, had reached an out-of-court settlement over the issue on March 13 when Additional Sessions Judge Abhay Thipsay asked them to file a joint application for withdrawal of proceedings.
After Mr Rane, and Mr Sanjay Raut and Mr Subhash Desai, Editor and trustee of Shiv Sena organ Saamna which had published Mr Rane's allegations against Mr Bhujbal, expressed regrets in writing and submitted it to the court today, the judge allowed withdrawal of the case and acquitted all three accused.
Mr Raut and Mr Desai are MP and MLA of the Shiv Sena respectively, while Mr Rane was also a party leader when the case was filed against him.
Both the Ministers and the Sena leaders were present in the court.
Mr Rane, in 2000 , had alleged that Ramtek, the official residence of DCM (Bhujbal) had become the nerve centre of terrorist activities because it was being frequented by accused of the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai.
Mr Rane had also alleged that Mr Bhujbal had taken Rs 50 crore for allowing a Japanese merchant ship move out of Mumbai port. An NCP leader, Mr Bhujbal was the State Home Minister then.
The ship was seized by the Indian Coast Guard following exchange of fire between crew members and Indonesian pirates in the juridication of Indian waters.
Saamna had then published two articles mentioning these allegations by Mr Rane.
In their regrets submitted to the court, Mr Rane and the Sena leaders said they did not have any intention of maligning his (Mr Bhujbal's) image by making defamatory statements. When the judge asked Mr Bhujbal about his reasons for withdrawing the case, the Minister said since they have expressed their regrets in writing, he wanted to withdraw the case.
In his brief order, the Judge said since both Mr Rane and Mr Bhujbal are Ministers, and considering the interest of the public at large, the dispute between the responsible Ministers could not be appropriate and granted permission for withdrawal of both the cases.
Earlier, Additional Public Prosecutor M J Bandgar requested for adjournment of proceedings on the grounds that he have to take instruction from the government over the compounding of the case.
But the judge declined it, saying both the parties have agreed to withdraw the case.
In 2000, Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi, who was booked under TADA for his alleged involvement in the 1993 serial bomb blast conspiracy, had visited the official residence of Mr Bhujbal along with his lawyer Majid Memon. Following this, Mr Rane had issued a statement, alleging that 'Ramtek' had become a nerve centre of terrorist activities.
Thereafter, Mr Bhujbal had lodged a defamation against Mr Rane and the Editor and trustee of Saamna.
BJP leader Nitin Gadakari had also made a similar allegation against Mr Bhujbal and the latter had also made him a party in the case. But Judge Thipsay had discharged Mr Gadkari from the case for want of sufficient evidence.
The state government had challeged the discharge order in Bombay High Court where it is still pending.
Mr Azmi was later discharged from blast case by the Supreme court.