Accompanied by dozens of supporters, cabinet colleagues, MPs, MLAs and lawyers, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley filed a criminal defamation case in a city court against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five senior AAP leaders. Jaitley also filed a separate civil defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore as damages before the Delhi High Court.
The criminal defamation plea, which was heard before the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Sanjay Khanagwal, has sought action against Kejriwal, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Kumar Vishwas, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpai under sections 499, 500, 501, 502 of the IPC for offences that involve making and disseminating defamatory statements. These carry a maximum prison sentence of two years and a fine.
The complaint relies on tweets, Facebook posts and press statements made by the AAP leaders, targeting Jaitley for alleged corruption in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA). Jaitley was the president of the body till December 2013.
The AAP had raised allegations over the money spent on the construction of Feroz Shah Kotla stadium, and sponsorship deals with a company for use of private boxes.
Jaitley alleged that the AAP leaders had “collectively undertaken a false/malicious defamatory campaign” to “gain political mileage and other unwarranted benefits at the cost of causing irreversible damage” to him and his family, as they were “political opponents of the BJP”.
Watch Video Arun Jaitley Slaps Defamation Case Against Kejriwal
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“…21st Century Media Pvt Ltd is a professional sports management company of which neither the complainant nor any one of his family members ever had any commercial dealings/commercial interest/shareholding, nor was complainant ever on board of the company,” stated the complaint.
Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, representing Jaitley, claimed the defamatory campaign was a “counter blast” to “shift attention” from the CBI’s investigation into Delhi government officials based on a “corruption complaint by a third party”.
Luthra also said “proof” of Jaitley not being involved in the alleged corrupt activities “would be seen” in documents of the Registrar of Companies.
View pics: Arun Jaitley at Patiala House Court
“The complainant is a senior member of the Bar and belongs to a reputed legal family. He has been the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha for several years and is now the finance minister… They (AAP leaders) have caused irreversible damage to his name and credibility, both in his personal and professional capacity,” said Luthra. He added that the finance minister “far from taking pecuniary advantage, had not even taken legitimate reimbursements for expenses from the DDCA” during his tenure as president.
Luthra also said the AAP leaders, as “public figures and journalists” were “well aware” that the statements being made by them were defamatory. Luthra also said 21st Century Media had issued a legal notice to the leaders and may soon file a similar defamation case.
The CMM will record Jaitley’s statement on January 5. The defamation suit is expected to be heard by the high court Tuesday.