Mumbai, Jan 28: A magistrate’s court here on Thursday slapped a fine of Rs.3,000 on former civil aviation minister Praful Patel for repeatedly seeking adjournments in a defamation case. Metropolitan Magistrate V.P. Adone imposed the fine after rejecting Patel’s lawyers’ plea seeking another adjournment in a defamation case filed by the former minister against ex-Air India executive director Jitender Bhargava. The defamation case matter revolves around Bhargava’s controversial book entitled “The Descent of Air India” in which he had chronicled the diminution of the tiol carrier through certain “reckless and motivated” decisions taken between 2004-2008.
In this period, Patel was the aviation minister while V. Thulasidas was the chairman of Air India. Bhargava had penned the book post-retirement. Irked by the contents of the book, Patel filed a defamation case against Bhargava and the publishers, Bloomsbury, in October 2013. “Though the publishers subsequently withdrew the book from the markets around Jaury 2014, I stood my ground since everything in the book was based on documentary evidence,” Bhargava told IANS. Since then, he said that about 10 dates for hearing were fixed by the court, but on each occasion, Patel’s side sought adjournments which were granted, said Bhargava, who is fighting his case himself, though not a lawyer. At the previous hearing on November 5, 2015, Magistrate Adone of 62nd Bhoiwada Court rejected another plea for adjournment and fixed January 28, 2016 for the hearing. Again Patel’s legal team sought an adjournment which was rejected by Adone, who also slapped a fine of Rs.3,000 on him. Now the matter has been fixed for hearing on February 12, said Bhargava. (IANS)