The Delhi High Court on Friday granted suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad exemption from appearing before a trial court in a criminal defamation complaint filed against him by DDCA and cricketer-turned-politician Chetan Chauhan. Justice Mukta Gupta, however, refused to stay the proceedings in the trial court, which had recently granted bail to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the case.
The high court issued notice to the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) and Chauhan, seeking their response by July 20 on Azad’s plea for quashing the summons issued to him by the trial court.
Azad, who was granted bail on February 18, has sought quashing of the complaint on the ground that he was merely sitting beside former cricketer Surinder Khanna during the press conference and had not made any imputations against the cricketing body.
“Allegations against DDCA were made by Surinder Khanna. There is not an iota of evidence that I (Azad) have said anything. I was merely sitting beside the other members,” Azad’s counsel submitted.
The counsel said that Khanna should have been named in the complaint.
The trial court had on January 30 summoned Kejriwal and Azad, saying their statements prima facie adversely affected the reputation of the cricketing body and its officials.
Kejriwal had in his application before the trial court sought dropping of proceedings against him on the ground that DDCA is a juristic person (other than a living human being) and the allegations are that he defamed the complainant by saying that sexual favours were demanded by the members of the cricketing body.
Azad has also moved an application seeking discharge. The trial court has directed DDCA and Chauhan to file their reply on the next date of hearing on April 1.
Both DDCA and Chauhan have claimed that defamatory statements were made by Kejriwal and Azad, who himself is a member of DDCA, “to remain in the public eye and gain political mileage”.
“In an interview to a news channel, Kejriwal had alleged that apart from financial irregularities, there were other major wrongdoings in DDCA, including a sex racket,” the plea has alleged.
The allegation against Azad was that he endorsed the defamatory allegations made by Kejriwal and claimed he had raised a similar issue in 2007.