NATIONAL

SC reserves verdict on plea against Advani

New Delhi Aug. 26. The Supreme Court today reserved verdict on an appeal filed by the Bihar Government against a 1996 judgment of the Patna High Court expunging certain remarks in the Bhagalpur Riots Commission report describing the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani as the "second Jinnah" of the country.

A Bench, comprising Justice Brijesh Kumar and Justice Arun Kumar, reserved the decision on the appeal after hearing Mr. Advani's counsel, Harish Salve, and Dinesh Diwedi, counsel for the Bihar Government. Mr. Diwedi contended that the Government was considering the report of the three-member Commission inquiring into the 1989 Bhagalpur riots and no action had been taken against either the BJP or its then chief, Mr. Advani. If the Government had proposed any action then a cause of action could have arisen, he said. Mr. Salve justified the High Court judgment and said a person's reputation was intrinsically related to his fundamental right to life and liberty and the same right was breached when the Commission, without giving Mr. Advani an opportunity to defend himself, criticised him on the basis of his articles in the party magazine "Panchjanya" four years after the occurrence of the riots.

He drew the court's attention to the objectionable passages alleging that Mr. Advani was responsible for preaching communalism in the country.

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