Thursday, August 03, 2017


Pune Mirror: Pune: Thursday, August 03, 2017.
RTI activist claims Bala Bhegde made false and insulting statements about him on live TV, over contention of hundreds of trees hacked on forest land.
A criminal defamation case has been filed against a standing member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly from Maval constituency Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Sanjay aka Bala Bhegde for making derogatory statements against a Right to Information (RTI) activist and threatening him on a TV show in January 2016.
The complainant, Maval-based Somatane Phata resident Vikas Taneja, wrote in his statement that there is a forest road at a distance of around 300 metres from his father’s house, which he often used for morning walks. On January 2 last year, when Taneja was out for a stroll, he found more than 200 large trees had been hurriedly axed the previous night. On January 29, he filed a complaint against Bhegde at the forest department, alleging that the MLA had done this to build a new road via the farmhouse of district guardian minister Girish Bapat, connecting to his own home and that of his supporters.
Taneja further stated that annoyed by this complaint, Bhegde called him and warned him off, asking him to withdraw any such plaints. Taneja prepared a CD recording and transcript of the conversation, asserting that the accused intentionally insulted him.
Besides his police complaint filed on February 11 at Talegaon Dabhade police station, Taneja also wrote to the Prime Minister, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Pune district collector April 3. He further clicked photographic evidence of the lost trees and sought the intervention of print and electronic media.
Finally, this matter was highlighted on a TV show on June 26, in which state forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar also participated, and assured that action could be taken against any offenders. During this programme, Bhegde was connected through as live video conference call. Taneja alleges that in the course of this interaction, Bhegde made defamatory statements against him, saying that “a case of illegal construction and cheating has been registered” against Taneja. Bhegde asserted on TV that complaints have been filed against Taneja at Talegaon Dabhade PS also for causing grievous hurt by use of weapons under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), claiming that Taneja had come to him for help about this later.
Taneja has denied any such cases filed against him, claiming that he was only vilified because he raised his voice against an illegal activity by a politically well-connected person. His defamation plea states that many of his kith and kin view the regional news channel and asked him about the cases filed against him. He claims he has had to “face ridicule” and his “image was degraded in the eyes of the public”.
Advocate Sagar Kothari, who represents Taneja, told Mirror, “The court has taken cognisance of our complaint. We have sought information under RTI and proved Bhegde’s statements on TV false. We have prayed due process against him for offenses under sections 500 (defamation) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the IPC.”
The court has taken cognisance of our complaint. We have sought information under RTI and proved Bhegde’s statements on TV falses.