Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was Saturday put on trial by a court in a defamation case, on the basis of a criminal complaint filed against him by BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri. Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh framed charges against the Chief Minister under sections 499 and 500 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code, after which the minister pleaded not guilty, while refusing to contest the charge. The court also granted Kejriwal reprieve from permanent exemption from personal appearance in the case. However, the court directed him to appear as and when he may be summoned on important dates. The court will take up the case again on December 23.
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During the hearing, the Chief Minister said he had no intention of defaming the BJP leader, a claim contested by
Bidhuri. The BJP MP had alleged that Kejriwal had defamed him during an interview with a news channel. He had claimed that during the interview, Kejriwal had falsely said that “serious” criminal cases were pending against Bidhuri, but Delhi Police were not taking action against him. Bidhuri claimed that no such case was pending against him and Kejriwal had defamed him by making a statement.
Kejriwal’s defence lawyer Rishikesh Kumar urged the court to drop the charges, arguing that it was an hour-long
interview and the BJP leader has taken the statement out of context. Kejriwal’s defence also argued that the Chief Minister had only reiterated what was already in the public domain.
According to the defence counsel, Bidhuri, in his affidavit for the 2014 Lok Sabha election, had already given details of the cases against him. This, said Kumar, was only reiterated during the interview. But the complainant’s lawyers argued that Kejriwal had made such a statement to defame Bidhuri for political reasons, as he had done so right before the elections.
The court dismissed Kejriwal’s application — which had sought that the proceedings against him be dropped — observing that at this stage, getting into the merits of the case was not warranted, Kumar told The Indian Express. Kejriwal was summoned as an accused by the court earlier this year on a criminal defamation complaint filed against him by Bidhuri, an MP from South Delhi parliamentary constituency. He was granted bail by the court on July 8 after he appeared before it and furnished a personal bond of Rs 10,000.