SRINAGAR: The J&K High Court has issued a fresh notice to National Conference general secretary and former minister Ali Mohammad Sagar on a petition filed by a senior bureaucrat to remove his name from the list of witnesses in a defamation case filed by Sagar against Mehbooba Mufti in 2004.
The officer – Shailendra Kumar, presently Commissioner Secretary Industries and Commerce, has sought directions from the High Court to quash the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s bailable warrant issued against him on September 12, 2015, after he failed to appear as witness in the defamation case.
Kumar, who was Deputy Commissioner Srinagar and District Election Officer in 2004, has also sought deletion of his name from the list of witnesses mentioned by Sagar in his complaint of defamation against Mehbooba Mufti.
Kumar has submitted before the High Court that he has no personal, private or official knowledge of the allegations made in the complaint by Sagar and that he is neither eyewitness nor circumstantial witness to the averments made in the complaint.
As the plea came up for hearing before a single bench of Justice R Sudhakar, no counsel appeared for Sagar, following which the court issued the fresh notice, calling for a response by the senior NC leader.
Besides Kumar, Sagar’s witnesses before CJM Srinagar included Sharief-ud-Din, then additional Deputy Commissioner Baramulla and Assistant Returning Officer; Khawja Bashir, former Deputy Commissioner Budgam and Returning Officer; Irshad Ahmad, then Magistrate on Duty; Bashir Ahmad Khan, then Superintendent of Srinagar City (North); and Advocate Shabir Ahmad.
Among them, statements of Sharief-ud-Din, Khawja Bashir and Irshad Ahmad have already been recorded by the CJM. Sagar’s witnesses in the case also include editors of a few local English and Urdu dailies.
Sagar, who was chief polling agent of Omar Abdullah during the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, had filed a defamation suit against Mehbooba Mufti accused her of rigging elections through booth capturing.
Sagar alleged that Mehbooba had damaged his reputation by making defamatory statements that he was carrying bogus voters from booth to booth in favour of Omar Abdullah in the parliamentary elections in 2004. A case (FIR no. 22/2004) stands registered in this regard in police station Khanyar.
Sagar also alleged that Mehbooba defamed him publicly by claiming that Sagar was responsible for the burning of Nawakadal bridge in 1986.
At one point in time, Mehbooba had approached the High Court to seek dismissal of the defamation case. However, the High Court dismissed her petition and directed the CJM to proceed ahead.