The court of the joint registrar (judicial) in the Delhi High Court witnessed tense scenes as the cross-questioning of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley by senior advocate Ram Jethmalani continued on Wednesday. This was the fourth time Jaitley was examined in the civil defamation suit, filed by him against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five AAP leaders seeking Rs 10 crore in damages. At one stage, the court noted that Jethmalani had called Jaitley a “crook”. Raising “serious objections”, Jaitley and his counsels, senior advocates Rajiv Nayar and Sandeep Sethi, called for a “definite statement” on whether the word “crook” was used by Jethmalani in his personal capacity or on instructions of his client, Kejriwal.
(PTI adds: “If this is so, I would aggravate the charges against the defendant (Kejriwal),” Jaitley said, adding that there was a limit to personal malice.) Jethmalani said he used the word on instructions of his client. But the instructing counsel for Kejriwal denied this, following which Jethmalani said he had received the instructions during his meetings with his client, in the absence of the counsel. Earlier, starting the cross-examination, Jethmalani said that in the last proceedings on May 15, Jaitley had made a statement saying that though he did not read the weekly newspaper, Sunday Guardian, he might be able to find if any article had been published against him. “I read some prominent newspapers and economic newspapers regularly. What is published in hundreds of other newspapers about me is not necessarily brought to my notice,” said Jaitley.
When Jaitley said he read The Indian Express, Jethmalani showed him a document (a half-page advertisement from April, 2015) published in the newspaper. “Now this article in The Indian Express had been written and sent to Sunday Guardian on a Friday, intended to be published on Sunday. What do you have to say?” The court disallowed the question, saying it was already observed as irrelevant in the last proceedings.
Jethmalani then suggested that before the article was to be published, Jaitley had “arranged with the staff not to publish it”. The court again disallowed the question on the same premise. Jethmalani again said that though the article was going to be published on April 26, 2015 on a specific page, it was not published. Disallowing the question, the court said the senior lawyer was seeking “specific inquiries” in a case, which was not an issue in the present matter.
Jethmalani then asked when Jaitley read the article (ad) for the first time. Disallowing the question again, the court noted that during the questioning, Jethmalani had referred Jaitley as being “guilty of crimes and crookery”, to which, Jaitley and his counsel had raised objections. The matter has now been listed for July 28 and July 31.