Amidst his indefinite fast for the Jan Lokpal Bill, noted social activist and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has moved the Bombay high court seeking quashing of a defamation case filed by Shiv Sena MLA Suresh Jain.
The petition was listed on Wednesday before a division bench of justice AM Khanwilkar and justice PD Kode. Justice Khanwilkar, however, recused himself from hearing the petition saying he had earlier represented Jain. The petition will now come up before some other bench.
The matter dates back to May 2003, when Jain was a minister in the Democratic Front Government in Maharashtra and Anna Hazare had begun a campaign against four ministers, including Jain. In a press conference held at Nanded (Marathwada), Anna had levelled allegations of corruption against the four ministers—Jain, Vijaykumar Gavit, Padmasingh Patil and Nawab Malik—claiming he had ample evidence of their corrupt means.
In June 2003, Jain filed two defamation cases against Anna, one before Judicial Magistrate First Class at Jalgaon and other with the Esplanade Metropolitan Magistrate Court in the city. Anna has sought quashing of the Jalgaon case contending both the cases were based on one and the same statement made by him. The 71-year-old former defence personnel has further contended that Jain deliberately chose to proceed with only the Jalgaon case, and is prolonging the case pending with Esplanade court by continuously remaining absent.
While the Jalgaon case has reached the last stage of recording Anna’s statement under section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the case before the Esplanade magistrate court has not moved an inch from recording his plea, the petition stated.
Anna has sought clubbing of both the cases apprehending he will be deprived of an opportunity of fair trial, if the Jalgaon case was allowed to proceed while allowing the Esplanade case to linger.
The petition also stated that the information and documents likely to be revealed by the accused (Anna) in his defence before the Jalgaon court will give undue advantage to Jain in Mumbai case.