The Eighth City Civil and Sessions Court here has permanently restrained former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda from making any defamatory statements against the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE) project. It has also directed him to pay Rs 2 crore as damages to the company.
The Eighth City Civil and Sessions Judge, Mallanagouda, pronounced this verdict on June 17 which has come as a major setback to Gowda who had been waging a battle against the project since the last two decades. The project was cleared by Gowda himself when he was the Karnataka Chief Minister in 1995 on a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) basis.
The NICE had filed a defamation case against the Janata Dal(Secular) leader seeking Rs 10 crore as damages after Gowda’s interview given to a vernacular news channel ‘Gowdara Garjane’ (Gowda roars) on June 28, 2011.
Referring to the interview, Promoter and Managing Director of the NICE project Ashok Kheny, who is also the former Bidar South MLA, had filed a defamation case challenging Gowda’s accusations against the company and demanded that Gowda prove his allegations in court.
During the interview, Gowda had termed the NICE project as ‘loot’, which NICE promoter Kheny had objected to and in his plea he had maintained that derogatory remarks and false accusations by Gowda had caused enormous damage to the company’s reputation, hence his company must be awarded Rs 10 crore as damages.
The court said the defendant (Deve Gowda) had failed to substantiate the statements made by him in an interview and there is nothing on record to show that the allegations made by him against the plaintiff company (NICE) are supported by any cogent documentary proof.
The court said the project has been upheld by the Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court in many judgments. “Hence, if defamatory statements like the present one are allowed to be made in future, it will definitely hamper implementation of such a massive project like the present one which is undertaken in the larger public interest of the State of Karnataka and is going to be delayed,” the court observed.
The Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises Road, commonly known as NICE Road and officially called the Bengaluru-Mysuru Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC), a 4 to 6-lane private toll expressway in Karnataka, to connect Bengaluru and Mysuru.
At present, only four km of the expressway, besides 41 km of peripheral road and a 8.5 km link road has been completed. The completed part of NICE road consists of a half-circle around Bengaluru city, starting from Electronic City Ending at Tumkur Road. It has access points at Electronic City, Bannergatta Road, Kanakapura Road, Mysore Road, Magadi Road and Tumkur Road.