The Supreme Court deferred till Tuesday the hearing on the appeal of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking a stay on the trial court proceedings in a criminal defamation case filed against him by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. A bench of Justices P C Ghose and U U Lalit was informed by the counsel for Kejriwal that senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani would argue the case and he was not available on Monday which led to adjournment of the hearing.
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The Delhi High Court had on October 19 dismissed his plea seeking stay of trial court proceedings in a criminal defamation case, saying, there was no ‘illegality’ in continuing it simultaneously with a civil defamation suit in the high court.
The high court had said there was ‘no prejudice’ on account of a pending civil suit and there was no ‘double jeopardy’ and as such Kejriwal’s plea was ‘devoid of merit’.
It had said the criminal and civil defamation cases were ‘different in nature’.
Kejriwal had contented that proceedings before the trial court should be stayed since a civil suit was pending before the high court and both cannot proceed simultaneously.
Regarding the challenge to the magisterial court’s May 19 order dismissing Kejriwal’s plea to grant stay on proceedings due to pendency of civil suit, the high court had said that the trial court order was “free from perversity, impropriety, illegality and non-sustainability”.
The high court also opined that there was no bar on a magistrate taking cognisance of the offence, which he may be of the opinion is said to have been committed by a person whose matter is still pending in a civil court.
Besides a civil defamation suit in the high court, Jaitley had also filed a criminal defamation complaint in a lower court alleging Kejriwal and five AAP leaders — Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai — had defamed him in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy.