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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today appeared before the Delhi High Court and tendered evidence in support of his civil defamation suit against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders.
The union minister came to the court of a Joint Registrar at 2 PM along with a battery of senior lawyers and recorded his evidence during which he endorsed the documents and annexures filed by him alongwith the civil suit.
Jaitley, who has already denied all allegations of financial bungling in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), had filed the suit seeking Rs 10 crore damages against the backdrop of attacks on him by Kejriwal and other AAP leaders over alleged irregularities and financial bungling in the cricket body of which he was the president for about 13 years till 2013.
The senior BJP leader, who appeared before the high court in the matter for the first time since he had filed the suit in December 2015, corroborated his demand for Rs 10 crore as damages from Kejriwal and others.
Senior advocates Rajiv Nayar, Sandeep Sethi and Pratibha M Singh, who appeared for Jaitley, submitted the files and documents during the one-and-a-half-hour long proceedings.
The court fixed the matter for further hearing on March 6 next year, when Jaitley will be cross-examined by the counsel for Kejriwal and other AAP leaders.
Advocate Rishikesh, appearing for the Chief Minister, sought a long date to cross-examine Jaitley as Kejriwal has engaged senior advocate Ram Jethmalani who will not be available for two months.
Jaitley’s counsel opposed the contention and said that Kejriwal and the five AAP leaders — Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai — were “unnecessarily delaying the matter”.
After the hearing was over, Jaitley, along with his lawyers, headed to the high court advocates’ canteen.
The Minister appeared to record his evidence after the high court on July 12 had framed issues against Kejriwal and others in the matter, notwithstanding their claim that they had not made any defamatory statement against him in the DDCA case.
The issues were framed against them after Kejriwal’s counsel had denied the allegations and submitted that whatever was said against the Minister was in public domain and he has not said anything on his own.
The court had framed issues against all the six AAP leaders and fixed the matter before Joint Registrar to decide whether any defamatory statements were made by them.
In a civil suit, when one party affirms and other party denies a material proposition of fact or law, then only the issues arise.
Some of the issues framed by the court include whether Jaitley was entitled for any damage for the alleged defamatory statements made by AAP leaders and what should be the amount.
“Whether the statements which are in public domain are actionable or not,” the court said in one of its issues.
Over the long date in the matter, Jaitley’s counsel urged the court to appoint local commissioner for speedy disposal of the matter.
Jaitley’s contention was opposed by AAP leaders who did not give their consent to appointment of local commissioner.
The Union minister has filed a criminal defamation complaint in a Delhi court on the same issue. The DDCA has also filed a criminal defamation suit against Kejriwal and suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad.