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Himachal court frames charges against CM in defamation case

A court in Una town of Himachal Pradesh on Monday framed charges against Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in a defamation case.

The complaint was filed by S.M. Katwal, former chairman of the state Subordinate Services Selection Board.

Official sources said Judicial Magistrate Ajay Kumar framed the charges and listed the matter for next hearing on October 12.

The Himachal Pradesh High Court on March 21 last year ordered the retrial in the defamation case against Virbhadra Singh.

Hearing Katwal’s petition, Justice D.C. Chaudhary had directed the judicial magistrate in Una for retrial.

Katwal had challenged the judgment of the sessions court which quashed the judicial magistrate’s order to issue summons to Virbhadra Singh in two cases of defamation.

Katwal, who was chairman of the board from 2000 to 2003, had filed criminal defamation cases alleging he was defamed by speeches made by Virbhadra Singh at public meetings.

The judicial magistrate had issued summons to Virbhadra Singh on August 16, 2005, who filed a revision petition in the sessions court which quashed the orders on the ground that the complainant could not be called the person aggrieved as the imputation, at the most, can be said to be against the board, and that too when the complainant was not its chairman.

The high court observed that the revisional court has a limited jurisdiction to see if there is a legal bar against continuance of criminal proceedings or framing of charges.