HARASSED: The famous painter MF Hussain was harassed for painting pictures of Hindu goddess in the nude. Hundreds of criminal cases were filed against him and finally forced him to run away to Dubai.

By Rajan Narayan.

The outcome of criminal defamation cases depends on the monetary power of the party who makes the complaint and the honesty of the judge before whom the case is filed. In the case of Rahul Gandhi, a defamation case was filed in Surat for a comment he made in Karnataka about some Modi surnames. The Sessions Judge HH Varma in Surat without application of mind sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail which made him liable for instant disqualification from Parliament…

TO start with let us start with definitions right and wrong. The word “defamation” applies to any false allegation or comments you make about a third party. There are two kinds of defamation law which suffer from a British colonial hangover. There is civil defamation where if defamation is proved the victim can claim financial compensation. In the case of civil defamation, the accused does not have to be present at every hearing of the case.
This is in sharp contrast to criminal defamation, whereby the accused has to be present at every hearing of the case. There is no jurisdiction when it comes to defamation. If I have given you gali or abuses in Jharkhand, any party can file a defamation case against me not necessarily in Goa where I reside but in a small Telangana town court.
The comment about Modis being chor (thief) was made by Rahul Gandhi more as a joke during one of his election rallies in Karnataka. The criminal defamation case against him was filed by a BJP MP Purnesh Modi in a Surat sessions court. We recall an extreme defamation case where over a hundred criminal defamation cases were filed against the painter MF Hussain for painting Hindu gods or goddesses without their clothes in his artwork. This meant that every day of the year he would have to attend court in some part of the country, leaving him no time to paint. A disgusted MF Hussain migrated to Dubai where he was granted citizenship and all the freedom he wanted to express in his artwork.

THE outcome of criminal defamation cases depends on the complainant, the provocation for the case, the court in which the case is filed, and the competence of the lawyers concern. When Alvernaz Alemao, the brother of Churchill Alemao, who was killed in scuffle with customs officer Costeo Fernandes, I recall making some comments about the gold smuggling conspiracy. Among those involved were the Alemao brothers including Churchill Alemao who was then chief minister and an associate of Naren Dossa in whose house allegedly the smuggled gold was stored. The gold stored in empty batteries was smuggled in broad day light from the Fatrade beach in Varca in south Goa and stored in secret place.
In this incident we are talking about the gold was being transported in Churchill Alemao’s Contessa car, when Costeo Fernandes intercepted it and he jumped in through the window of the car and in the violent fight which ensured Alvarnas lost his life. In my report I included the names of all the parties involved including Xavier Marques who looked after the film industry for Dawood Ibrahim and Roy, the name of one of Churchill’s associates who took away the gold in his scooter after the incident.

SINCE my report was published in the OHeraldo in Goa, ideally, any case filed against me should have been in a court in Goa. However, claiming that he had taken a subscription in OHeraldo, Naren Dossa who had a bungalow in Lonavala, filed a defamation case against the paper in a remote small sessions court in the interior of Maharashtra. It was a very tiny court. The judge did not stay there but travelled every day from Pune. The court functioned only from 11 am to 4 pm. All the lawyers in the court were heavily bribed by the smuggling mafia of which Dossa was part of. None of them was willing to defend us.
Moreover, the session judge court summoned all senior members of the OHeraldo staff including the publisher, the directors, the news editor, the reporter and the editor, for every hearing of the case. The judge refused to give an exemption to any of us. Things improved only when we hired a senior Goan lawyer, Charmaine Bocarro from Mumbai. For almost 50 days all of us had to go driving all the way, taking a flight to Mumbai and driving from Mumbai to the remote village where the case was filed. I have never experienced so much harassment in my entire life as with this smuggling case.
The way the case ended was an anti-climax. I happened to meet Churchill Alemao on a flight to Mumbai. The assembly elections was around the corner. Churchill asked me whether I would support him if he got Dossa to withdraw the case. I agreed since I was tired. When we reached Mumbai we drove down to the Marriott Hotel. There boss man Xavier Marques, Dawood Ibrahim’s main confidant, who looked after the film industry for him, was already there, so was Naren Dossa. In my presence Xavier Marques and Naren Dossa write out an application withdrawing the case.
I am recalling this case to highlight how criminal defamation cases can be very arbitrary and unfair. Those who have the money can file hundreds or thousands of criminal defamation cases against you for whatever petty reason. The person who files the case is not concerned about whether he wins or loses the case. It is purely a case of harassing someone out of vindictiveness because some illegal deal had gone wrong.

COMING to the case of Rahul Gandhi’s current defamation case, he has been convicted by the Sessions Court in Surat for a speech made in Karnataka two years ago. The conviction has been suspended for a month to give him time to appeal for its cancellation. But surprisingly even without waiting for the sentence to be pronounced the Lok Sabha and the Election Commission promptly the very next day disqualified Rahul Gandhi from his membership of Parliament. So that he could not attend Parliament as MP from Wayanad.
This is something very absurd as the said law specifies that only those who had been sentenced to two years of more in a criminal case stand automatically disqualified. In this case even before the sentence was pronounced the Election Commission acted allegedly on Narendra Modi’s behind the scenes directive.

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