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The Delhi High Court on Thursday termed as “scandalous” certain remarks made by Arvind Kejriwal’s lawyer Ram Jethmalani against Arun Jaitley during his cross examination in a civil defamation suit filed by the Union Minister. Justice Manmohan said if such remarks were made on instructions of Kejriwal, then he should “first step into the box and make good his allegations” before continuing with Jaitley’s cross examination.
“If such allegations have been made on instructions of Defendant 1 (Kejriwal), then no point in continuing with cross examination of plaintiff (Jaitley) any more. Let Defendant 1 make good his allegations. Let him step into the box,” the judge orally observed.
Jaitley’s senior advocates Rajiv Nayar and Sandeep Sethi had raised the issue before the court saying they want a clarification from Kejriwal whether the remarks were made on his instructions or by Jethmalani on his own. Nayar said if Kejriwal had instructed the senior lawyer to make the adverse remark, then they would seek additional aggravated damages of Rs 10 crore from him.
If on the other hand, Jethmalani had on his own made the remark, then it would be a violation of the Bar Council of India rules, he said.
The court said that such manner of cross examination cannot be allowed and something has to be done. It directed Jaitley’s lawyers to file an application with regard to the adverse remarks made against him by Jethmalani. “What is to be done when such scandalous remarks are made. It’s unpleasant,” Justice Manmohan said and added that “cross (examination) should be carried out in accordance with law”.
The court said if cross examination is carried out in this manner in rape cases then it would amount to the victim being raped all over again and that too in court.
Jethmalani had made the remarks on Wednesday before Joint Registrar Deepali Sharma when Jaitley was being cross-examined in the Rs 10 crore civil defamation case filed by him against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders for accusing him of financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) of which he was the President from 2000 to 2013.
Five AAP leaders — Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai — along with Kejriwal are also facing a criminal defamation case filed by Jaitley on the same issue. The issue cropped up before Justice Manmohan who was hearing an application moved by Chadha for making amendments in his written submission filed in reply to Jaitley’s plea.
During the hearing, the judge frowned upon the way the cross examination was carried out saying a person who has filed a defamation case “cannot be further defamed in this manner”. The amendment application was listed before another bench by the court on May 26.
Sparks flew during a charged-up hearing on Wednesday in the high court after Jaitley lost his cool when Jethmalani used a scandalous word to describe him. Jaitley, 64 , was in the court for the fourth round of cross-examination by Jethmalani yesterday in his defamation case against the AAP chief but the proceedings ended abruptly after an intense verbal duel broke out between the once close legal associates.
The proceedings had lasted barely 45 minutes. The joint registrar had on Wednesday posted the cross examination on July 28 and 31.