A court here on Saturday imposed a cost of Rs. 15,000 on Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar for not appearing before it in defamation cases filed by her and the head of an Ahmedabad-based NGO against each other.

Metropolitan Magistrate Rajinder Singh slapped a cost of Rs. 5,000 in each of the three defamation cases filed by Ms. Patkar and V. K. Saxena, president of National Council for Civil Liberties, who are involved in a legal tussle for the last 13 years.

“The accused [Ms. Patkar, who is also a complainant] is absent on almost every date.... Exemption [from personal appearance] is allowed with cost of Rs 5,000 in each of the cases,” the court said, while asking her to appear before it on July 17.

The court had advised the two litigants to settle their differences and withdraw the cases against each other. Seeking exemption from personal appearance, Ms. Patkar’s counsel informed the court that she was on a hunger strike in Mumbai to protest against the demolitions in the Golibar slum area there.

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