Union Minister Arun Jaitley has opposed Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea in the Delhi High Court seeking summoning of the minutes of meetings of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) held during 1999-2014. Kejriwal had moved the fresh plea in a pending defamation suit filed by the union minister against him and five other AAP leaders seeking Rs 10 crore as damages from them for allegedly levelling “defamatory” allegations with regard to irregularities in DDCA during Jaitley’s tenure as its President.
64-year-old Jaitley, in his reply filed before Joint Registrar Pankaj Gupta of the High Court, said that Kejriwal’s application deserved to be dismissed as he has been trying to delay the proceedings in the lawsuit by filing “frivolous” pleas, including the current one. He has said the fresh plea was “not only a dilatory tactic but clearly a roving and fishing expedition”.
The Delhi chief minister has sought summoning of the minutes of the meetings held by the General Body and the Executive Committee or Board of Directors of the DDCA between 1999 and 2014. Jaitley was the DDCA President from 2000 to 2013. Kejriwal, in his application filed through advocate Anupam Srivastava, has said he wished to cross-examine Jaitley in the suit, whose hearing had witnessed a high drama when his former counsel and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani had used some “objectionable and scandalous” words against the senior BJP leader.
Jethmalani, who has now stopped representing Kejriwal in the case, recently wrote letters alleging that those words were spoken at the instruction of the chief minister and his former client had hurled worse abuses against Jaitely in their meetings. Jaitley, who holds Finance and Defence portfolios, filed his reply through advocate Manik Dogra and said the Civil Procedure Code provided that if Kejriwal wanted to summon a witness or the records, he must mention them in his list of witnesses.
The list of witnesses was required to be filed within 15 days after the court framed issues to be decided in the suit. Jaitley said “it is admitted position that the defendant (Kejriwal) in his list of witnesses has not mentioned any such witness whom he wants to be summoned to produce the record of DDCA.” He said it was “evident that Kejriwal made per se defamatory statements against the plaintiff (and his family members). He (Kejriwal) earlier claimed that his statements were on the basis of documents available with him.
“It is abundantly clear that there was no basis for the defendant to have made said defamatory statements and he is now searching for sundry documents to buttress his defence”. Jethmalani’s statement that scandalous words were used at the instance of Kejriwal, led to the filing of a separate Rs 10 crore civil defamation suit against the Chief Minister.
After this, Kejriwal had told the court that he had not instructed Jethmalani to use “scandalous” words against the union minister. Following this, Jaitley moved an application to expedite the recording of evidence in an orderly and fair manner of his first defamation suit against Kejriwal and others.
During the hearing, Justice Manmohan had warned Kejriwal against asking any “offensive and scandalous” questions to Jaitley. The court had also asked his new counsel to give an undertaking that no objectionable and offensive questions would be put to Jaitley during the cross-examination slated on August 28.
Besides Kejriwal, the five other accused in the suit are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai. The AAP leaders had accused the BJP leader of corruption as the DDCA President. Jaitley had denied all the allegations by the AAP leaders in December 2015 and had filed a civil defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore damages from Kejriwal and the others, claiming they had made “false and defamatory” statements in a case involving DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.