Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today charged Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with making “a series of false, scandalous and defamatory allegations” with regard to the alleged DDCA controversy which had “adversely impacted” his reputation. During a stormy proceeding in a Delhi court, the chief minister and five other AAP leaders, facing criminal defamation case lodged by the union minister, attempted in vain to get the recording of Jaitley’s testimony stalled on grounds including that Kejriwal has had to engage a senior lawyer to replace noted jurist Ram Jethmalani, who had had a bitter fallout with him recently.
Besides the Chief Minister, AAP leaders — Ashutosh, Kumar Vishwas and Sanjay Singh, also sought adjournment on the ground that their lawyers were unwell. Their plea was rejected by the court which went ahead with the recording the statement of Jaitely. Referring to alleged assertions made by six AAP leaders, the veteran BJP leader said his reputation has been “adversely impacted” among the public due to “a series of false, scandalous and defamatory allegations” made by Kejriwal and others in connection with the alleged DDCA controversy.
Kejriwal and others had accused Jaitley of financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) of which he was the president from 2000 to 2013, leading the minister to lodge defamation cases against them. Senior advocate Siddhatha Luthra and advocate Manoj Taneja, appearing for Jaitley, opposed the plea of Kejriwal and others seeking adjournment and said it was frivolous and part of their “delaying tactic”.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass thereafter allowed Jaitley, the complainant, to record his statement, saying “I do not find any reason to stall the proceedings.” While the union minister was recording his statement, Ashutosh, Singh and Vishwas opposed the proceedings, saying they felt “handicapped” since their advocates were not available and they lacked knowledge about the legal proceedings. Recording of Jaitley’s statements remained inconclusive and the court posted the matter for further hearing on September 25.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal was given exemption from personal appearance for the day by the court after his counsel submitted that he was busy in a meeting. Kejriwal, Ashutosh, Singh and Vishwas, along with Raghav Chaddha and Deepak Bajpai, were on March 25 put on trial in the case. The notice was framed against the accused under section 500 (punishment for defamation) of the IPC to which they had pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
Jaitley had filed the complaint alleging that the accused had defamed him in a controversy regarding Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) which he headed for over a decade. A civil defamation suit was also filed by Jaitley before the Delhi High Court in the matter seeking Rs 10 crore as damages.