Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani has said he will not charge Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for appearing on his behalf if he could not pay the amount totaling a few crores. Jethmalani is representing Kejriwal in a defamation case filed against him by Union Minister Arun Jaitley.
“I charge only the rich but for the poor, I work for free. All this is instigated by (Arun) Jailtley who’s afraid of my cross-examination. Even now, if the government (Delhi) doesn’t pay or he can’t pay, I will appear for free, will treat him (Kejriwal) as one of my poor clients,” Jethmalani said.
According to reports, Jethmalani’s office sought a retainer fee of Rs 1 crore and demanded Rs 22 lakh per appearance in court. An unverified note that has surfaced reportedly shows deputy CM Manish Sisodia directing that payments to Jethmalani be cleared by the state government.
BJP, on its part, is questioning why the public should pay for a statement made by an individual, suggesting that Jaitley would be paying his counsel’s fee and not the Union government. BJP’s Pinki Anand, a prominent lawyer, said a defamation case is a personal one and therefore the bill cannot be footed by the government.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju also questioned how the AAP leader and Delhi CM is getting away with spending public money on his personal promotion.
The case pertains to a case filed against Arvind Kejriwal in 2015 accusing him of making unsubstantiated accusations against Finance Minister Jaitley during his role as Delhi and District Cricket Association chief. Kejriwal had further said that the December 2015 CBI raid at the Delhi Chief Minister’s office was “purely” aimed at removing files related to alleged irregularities in the DDCA in which the Finance Minister was allegedly named. Jaitley has also denied accusations that he tried to influence Delhi government’s vigilance chief Chetan Sanghi who handled the DDCA case.