KATHMANDU, September 3: Media law expert Ram Krishna Timalsena has said that the defamation case filed by chief of Nepal Oil Corporation Gopal Bahadur Khadka against Nepal Republic Media officials and journalists should have been rejected by the court right at the beginning.
Timalsena, former registrar at the Supreme Court, said that since the related provision of the existing Libel and Slander Act, 2016 BS (1959) doesn't allow for the demanding of such a huge amount of money in damages, the case shouldn't have been registered. “I don't know how the claim of such a huge amount of money in damages was included in the case as the law in Nepal doesn't allow it,” Timalsena said in an interview with Radio Nagarik 96.5 on Saturday. “His demand for damages isn't in accordance with the law,” he said.
Khadka filed a defamation case against Nagarik daily, which has been exposing embezzlement of millions of rupees in land procurement by NOC. In the case filed at Kathmandu District Court, he has sought Rs 800 million in damages.
Section 5 of the Libel and Slander Act, 2016 (1959) states that if a person libels another person, or prints or carries any matter knowingly or having reasonable ground to believe that it may result in libel against others, the said person shall be liable to a fine of up to five thousand rupees and may also be liable to the punishment of imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
Defamation law is invoked mainly in case comments are made with fictitious claims about a person's private affairs and in some sensitive cases such as sexual scandals and serious diseases, said Timalsena. He added that in this case, however, the media reported mainly on corruption, which is a matter concerning the responsibilities of Khadka's public position and discussed by parliamentary committees and other public institutions.
He said since Khadka holds an important position, he is a permanent public figure and doesn't have immunity from public and media scrutiny.