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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Himachal CM gets exemption in defamation cases

IANS  Una, July 26, 2014
First Published: 19:01 IST(26/7/2014) | Last Updated: 19:04 IST(26/7/2014)

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Saturday appeared in two trial courts here and secured personal bonds for exemption from personal appearance in two defamation suits against him.

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The cases were filed by state Subordinate Services Selection Board former chairman SM Katwal.

Official sources said the chief minister appeared in the courts of chief judicial magistrate Parveen Chauhan and judicial magistrate Divya Jyoti separately and secured bonds of Rs. 10,000 each.

The former court listed the matter for next hearing Sep 5, while the latter Aug 12.

The Himachal Pradesh high court in Shimla March 21 ordered the retrial in the defamation cases against Virbhadra Singh.

Hearing petitions of Katwal, justice DC Chaudhary had directed the judicial magistrate in Una for retrial.

Katwal challenged the judgment of sessions court which quashed the judicial magistrate's order to issue summons to Virbhadra Singh in both cases.

Katwal, who remained chairman of the board from 2000-03, had filed criminal defamation cases alleging he was defamed by the speeches made by Virbhadra Singh at public meetings.

The judicial magistrate had issued summons to Virbhadra Singh Aug 16, 2005, who filed revision petition in the sessions court which quashed the orders on the ground that the complainant could not be called the person aggrieved as the imputation, at the most, can be said to be against the board, and that too when the complainant was not its chairman.

The high court observed that the revisional court has a limited jurisdiction to see if there is a legal bar against continuance of criminal proceedings or framing of charges.

In another case, Katwal in March this year challenged the trial court orders dated Dec 24, 2012, in the high court against the acquittal of Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh in a 2012 corruption case.

The state police booked Virbhadra Singh and Pratibha Singh, a sitting MP from Mandi, Aug 3, 2009, under the Prevention of Corruption Act for alleged misuse of official position and criminal misconduct, when he was the chief minister in 1989.

In 2009, the Bharatiya Janata Party government was in power in the state.

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