Senior journalist Gauri Lankesh was convicted of criminal defamation in two cases by the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) Court in Hubballi on Monday, according to media reports.
The court sentenced her to six months in jail and imposed a total penalty of Rs. 10,000. It also granted her bail to file an appeal in a higher court, a report by The Hindu said.
Dharwad MP Prahallad Joshi and BJP leader Umesh Dhushi had filed individual defamation cases against Lankesh in objection to a report on BJP leaders she had published in her periodical on January 23, 2008.
Joshiâ€™s counsel S M Laxmeshwar told reporters that the court had found her article was published without any basis and sentenced her to six months in prison, and imposed a fine of Rs 5,000.
However, Dushiâ€™s counsel said that Lankesh was the second accused in the case filed by him and the court had ordered a similar punishment and had directed her to pay Rs 4,000 to the plaintiff and Rs 1,000 as legal expenses, reported The New Indian Express.
According to The Hindu, Gauri Lankesh told media persons that although few people wanted to see her behind bars, it had not happened as the court granted her bail. She said that she would appeal against the verdict in a higher court.
In October 2016, the second JMFC court had issued an arrest warrant against Lankesh for failing to appear before it and responding to earlier requests. It also granted her bail and had asked her to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 25,000.
In 2008, Lankesh had published an article against BJP leaders Prahallad Joshi, Venkatesh Mestry (former mayor), Umesh Dushi and Shivanand Bhat in a Kannada tabloid edited by her.
The police, in 2008, had busted a racket in which a few people were selling fake gold and a couple of BJP corporators had been implicated. The police did not find them, however, Lankesh had alleged that the BJP and Joshi were running a racket in her article, Joshi had told TNM in October.
Following its publication, the leaders had filed a criminal defamation case against her. Lankesh had moved the Karnataka High Court seeking to quash the case.
In June 2016, the HC had observed that the case could not be dismissed and that the hearing must continue in a lower court.