Replying to the defamation suit filed against him by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over accusations of corruption in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that his statements have not harmed Jaitley’s public character and the suit was an attempt “to browbeat the defendants into silence and dissuade them from drawing attention to the mismanagement and rampant financial irregularities plaguing the DDCA.”
“The plaintiff’s (Jaitley’s) claim that he enjoys and, in fact, possesses high public character is a totally frivolous and unsustainable claim. No injury of any kind has been caused to the plaintiff’s reputation which he claims. This is not a suit for injury to his private character, but to his public character, if at all. This defendant denies that he has any reputation of this kind to protect. In a democracy, this reputation can only be what can be proved to be the known reaction, response and manifestation of the people’s attitude to the plaintiff. The last time he contested the election to the Lok Sabha was from Amritsar as a BJP candidate in 2014… despite the success of the BJP, this plaintiff lost by a margin of more than 1,00,000 (one lakh) votes. Indian democracy has never accepted his claim of public character,” Kejriwal stated in the 17-page written statement included in his 2,000-page reply, comprising statements and evidences.
The chief minister filed the reply in response to a civil defamation suit, filed by Jaitley in the Delhi High Court on December 22, claiming damages of Rs 10 crore. Jaitley had also filed a criminal defamation case in the court of the chief metropolitan magistrate against Kejriwal and five senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders.
The chief minister added, “The plaintiff has himself, in the past, spoken out vehemently against other public figures on issues pertaining to corruption and cannot escape the same scrutiny. It is reiterated that the instant plaint has been instituted with the malafide intention of intimidating and coercing this defendant into succumbing to the threat of false, frivolous and malicious prosecution and to thereby prevent him from exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech and expression.”
Kejriwal said that the statements made about Jaitley were based on public records and the onus of proving them wrong was on the finance minister.
“It is the duty of the plaintiff to demonstrate in the plaint as to how he is not connected with the charges made in these public documents against the DDCA officials during the presidentship of the plaintiff. The plaintiff has grossly failed to demonstrate this and as such the suit is lacking material particulars and is liable to be dismissed,” Kejriwal stated.
The suit is likely to be heard on February 5.