Union Minister Arun Jaitley today opposed in Delhi High Court the plea of AAP leader Deepak Bajpai challenging the lower court’s order summoning him in a criminal defamation case, saying it was a “sorry attempt” to delay the trial. Jaitley, in an affidavit, said the AAP leader’s plea was devoid of any merit as no sincere attempt has been made by him to satisfy the grounds for condonation of the gross delay in filing the petition.
He said the plea has been filed after over one-and-a half years which “establishes a clear case of malafide and a sorry attempt to delay the ongoing trial”.
The high court was hearing a plea by the AAP leader who along with others was put on trial in the defamation case, filed by Jaitley against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders in the controversy surrounding the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA). Bajpai has challenged the lower court order summoning and framing notice against him for the alleged offence of defamation. He has also challenged the order by which his application seeking to be heard on the point of notice was also rejected. Justice I S Mehta posted the matter for further hearing on September 21.
Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Jaitley, said there was no urgency in the matter before the high court and the criminal revision petition was filed to stall or delay the on-going trial in the complaint case before the chief metropolitan magistrate. “The petitioner (Bajpai) has stated three events which according to him have resulted in delay in filing of the criminal revision petition, these include Punjab Assembly election, MCD elections of NCT Delhi and the Bawana by-poll. “It is submitted that the Punjab legislative election were held on February 4, the MCD elections on April 23 and the Bawana by-poll on August 23,” the affidavit filed through advocate Manik Dogra said.
It said the AAP leader has not given any plausible explanation for the delay from the period March 9, 2016 until February 4 or from February 4 to April 23 or lastly, from April 23 to August 23.
In any event, Bajpai’s engagements with elections cannot be a ground for condoning such a delay, it said. Jaitley further said that Bajpai has not only failed to show sufficient cause for not filing the petition on time but miserably failed to explain the day-to-day delay.
During the hearing, Bajpai’s counsel Prashant Mendiratta said he would file a rejoinder and claimed that the summons were sent to the AAP leader on a wrong address. Bajpai has claimed he resides outside the jurisdiction of the trial court and cannot be summoned by the court without an inquiry under the CrPC, which was not done in this case.
Besides Kejriwal and Bajpai, the other AAP leaders accused in the case are Ashutosh, Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh and Radhav Chaddha. Jaitley had filed the complaint alleging that the accused had defamed him in a controversy regarding DDCA which he headed for over a decade.
Earlier, Jaitley had appeared in the trial court and said that Kejriwal and five AAP leaders had made “false and defamatory” statements. He had rejected the charge that he had siphoned off money from DDCA for his own benefit. Jaitley was the DDCA President from December 1999 to December 2013.
On December 21, 2015, he had filed the criminal defamation case against them and sought their prosecution for offences that entail a punishment of up to two years in jail. A civil defamation suit was also filed by Jaitley before the Delhi High Court in the matter seeking Rs 10 crore as damages. Presently, Jaitley is being cross-examined by Kejriwal’s counsel before the high court.
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