The Supreme Court today dismissed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea seeking stay on trial court proceedings in a criminal defamation case filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. A bench of Justices P C Ghose and U U Lalit, while dismissing the plea, said that under the Evidence Act, a judgement given in a civil proceeding is not binding on the criminal case.
“We have seen the judgements. We can’t interfere with the judgements of the Delhi High Court and the trial court. The petition is dismissed,” the bench said.
Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Kejriwal, said that if the High Court pronounces judgement in the civil proceedings, then the subordinate court would have to follow the law in the case which is based on the same facts and circumstances.
He sought staying of the criminal defamation case filed by Jaitley against Kejriwal before the trial court and said that the civil proceedings before the High Court shall be continued.
The Delhi High Court had on October 19 dismissed Kejriwal’s 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”.
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It had said the criminal and civil defamation cases were “different in nature”.
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.
On April 7, the trial court had granted bail to Kejriwal and others in the case after they had appeared before it.
Jaitley had on December 21, 2015 filed the criminal defamation case against the AAP leaders and sought their prosecution for offences that entail a punishment of up to two years in jail.
Jaitley, in his civil defamation suit in the high court, has sought Rs 10 crore in damages from Kejriwal and the five AAP leaders for issuing allegedly false and defamatory statements against him and his family in connection with alleged irregularities in DDCA when he was its president.