Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was granted exemption from personal appearance for today by a court here in a criminal defamation complaint filed against him by DDCA and cricketer-turned-politician Chetan Chauhan. Metropolitan Magistrate Abhilash Malhotra took note of the plea filed by Kejriwal’s lawyer V K Ohri that the chief minister was unable to appear due to constitutional duties and granted him exemption only for today.
The AAP leader’s plea was opposed by advocate Sangram Patnaik, appearing for Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) and Chauhan, the UP Sports Minister who was also present. The opposition to the plea was recorded by the court.
The court has now fixed the matter for July 15 when it will hear the applications of the accused- Kejriwal and BJP MP Kirti Azad, who was present in the courtroom today – seeking dropping of proceedings against them.
While posting the matter for hearing after summer vacation, the court also considered the submission that High Court-appointed DDCA administrator Justice(retired) Vikramajit Sen has sought six weeks time to peruse the file.
On the last hearing, Kejriwal was granted bail after he appeared before the court which insisted on his presence. Azad, too, is out on bail in the matter.
Kejriwal had appeared after the court took strong objection to his exemption plea saying the accused has to first establish his identity before it and there should be a valid ground for seeking exemption.
The court had refused to accept the CM’s application for exemption from personal appearance till the time his plea for dropping of proceedings was decided. The magistrate asked Kejriwal’s counsel to show where does the law say that the accused is exempted till the time his application is pending.
The court had said that Constitution has given immunity to the President and governors and not to chief ministers. Kejriwal had then appeared before the court the same day.
Kejriwal had sought dropping of proceedings against him on the grounds that DDCA is a juristic person (other than a living human being) and the allegations are that Kejriwal defamed the complainant by saying that sexual favours were demanded by the members of the cricketing body.
“Since the complaint has not been filed by the aggrieved person (natural person), the court cannot take cognizance under the provision of CrPC and further proceedings against Kejriwal may be dropped,” the plea had said.
Azad had also moved an application seeking discharge.
The 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.
The complaint has 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