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Former PM Deve Gowda fined Rs 2 crore in defamation case

The Janata Dal (Secular) chief had targeted the NICE project and called it a 'loot'.

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Former PM Deve Gowda fined Rs 2 crore in defamation case
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A court in Bengaluru has instructed former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda to pay Rs 2 crore as damages to the company for making derogatory statements against Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE) in a television interview 10 years ago.

The Eighth City Civil and Sessions Judge, Mallanagouda, pronounced this verdict on June 17 which has come as a major setback to Gowda who had been waging a battle against the project for the last two decades. The project was cleared by Gowda himself when he was the Karnataka Chief Minister in 1995 on a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) basis.

Referring to the interview, Promoter and Managing Director of the NICE project Ashok Kheny, who is also the former Bidar South MLA, had filed a defamation case challenging Gowda's accusations against the company and demanded that Gowda prove his allegations in court.

Referring to the interview aired on June 28, 2011, on a Kannada news channel, the court said that Deve Gowda will have to pay a compensation of Rs 2 crore to the company for the damage to its reputation due to the derogatory remarks.

The Janata Dal (Secular) chief had targeted the NICE project and called it a 'loot'. During the interview, Gowda had termed the NICE project as 'loot', which NICE promoter Kheny had objected to and in his plea, he had maintained that derogatory remarks and false accusations by Gowda had caused enormous damage to the company's reputation, hence his company must be awarded Rs 10 crore as damages.

The court said that the project in question has been upheld by the Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court in their judgments.

In its June 17 judgment, the court said the company's project is big and in the interest of Karnataka. "If such derogatory statements are allowed to be made in future, certainly, there will be a delay in implementation of such a mega project of larger public interest to the state of Karnataka," the court noted.

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